Remember when the Leave campaign told us that it wanted the UK out of the EU in order to restore full sovereignty to the Westminster parliament? Turns out that promise was just as hollow as Better Together’s promise that no Westminster government would ever interfere with the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish parliament. There might be some comfort in knowing that it’s not just Scotland that gets lied to by British politicians on the make, but it’s a comfort that’s as cold as Dominic Raab’s heart.
Fresh from fighting to assert the sovereignty of the British parliament, Dominic and his pals in the ERG group of Brextremists are now worried that it has too much sovereignty. It’s all very well and good this sovereignty business, but if parliament is only going to go and use it to do stuff that the ERG doesn’t approve of, then it has to be stopped. The British people didn’t give Dominic an overwhelming mandate just so that MPs could go and override the will of the British people as interpreted by Dominic. Actually, they didn’t give Dominic any such mandate at all, but they did in his mind and that’s all that matters. The Daily Express also channelled Lady Di to tell him that it was all good with her. So that’s the same thing as an electoral mandate really. The medium’s spirit guide said so, and that guide is the Tory party. It’s not dead yet but it’s as good as.
The Westminster Parliament has no idea what sort of Brexit it wants, however it’s pretty clear on what it doesn’t want, and it doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit. However the law as it stands says that the UK will crash out of the EU at the end of the extension period on 31 October unless Parliament intervenes to stop it. That’s what Dominic has got so angry about, although to be fair Dominic spends most of his time in a state of permarage. He’s always got that look about him as though he’d narrowly missed hitting his thumb with a hammer and had hit his crotch instead. When he’s cooking his dinner he crushes the garlic with his fists. Because he’s that butch. If it’s not feminists who are getting his goat, it’s remainers, and failing that he can always get angry at his geography teacher at school who forgot to tell him that Britain is an island.
The only person in the entire UK who is angrier than Dominic is Piers Morgan, a man who lost his rag because Greggs started selling a vegan sausage roll and who went on Question Time to rant about snowflakes being offended by everything. Piers is angry with everyone, except Donald Trump. That’s the model that Dominic Raab is copying for his leadership pitch.
In order to prevent Parliament from doing that democracy thing and taking back control, if Dominic becomes the next Tory leader and Prime Minister, he’s going to prorogue Parliament so that MPs aren’t in session and then they can’t do anything to prevent the UK falling out of the EU by default. It’s a terribly clever plan, in the same way that it’s very clever to cheat at cards and then call it democracy.
To be fair, other Tory leadership contenders have lined up to rule this idea out. Andrea Leadsom called it profoundly undemocratic. Which it is. But we’ve now reached a point in British politics where Andrea Leadson can pose as the voice of reason. That’s like being lectured on particle physics by one of the tellytubbies.
The leadership contest remains Boris Johnson’s to lose, and it hardly needs to be pointed out that he’s very capable of losing it. But failing some dramatic and self-inflicted implosion he’s highly likely to get onto the short list of two who will be put to the Tory membership, and in that case he’s the runaway favourite. The collapse of the Conservative vote in yesterday’s Peterborough by-election and the rise of the Brexit party will only spook Tory MPs even further, and make them even more likely to turn to Boris Johnson as the only candidate who has a chance of taking Nigel Farage on at his own game and rescuing the Conservatives from electoral oblivion. A Conservative party which can’t win a by-election in a marginal constituency when the previous Labour incumbent has gone to jail is not a Conservative party that’s going to win a General Election.
Although this contest remains Boris Johnson’s to lose, we don’t know yet who has won. However we do know who has lost, and that’s Ruth Davidson. Gone are the days when the Scottish Tories mounted Operation Arse to keep Boris Johnson away from the leadership because he’s electoral kryptonite in Scotland. Now Ruth Davidson’s Ruth Davidson’s Vote Ruth Davidson for more Ruth Davidson Party are in full on Operation Arse Lick. They can live with Boris. They can work with Boris. Boris isn’t such a bad guy. They’ll cooperate with Boris, because he’s not as bad as some of the other contenders, like Dominic Raab. And because they can live with Boris, they’re determined to ensure that all of Scotland is going to have to thole him too.
After everything that Ruth Davidson has previously said about Boris Johnson and his lies, his unfitness for power, his opportunism and careerism, this volte-face only shows that Ruth Davidson is cut from exactly the same stained and shabby political cloth. By signalling that they’d be content with Boris Johnson, the Scottish Tories have shown that they’re not fit for getting anywhere near government. They’re spineless, opportunistic, and utterly bereft of any principles. So far, so Tory. But even worse than that they’ve shown that they are not prepared to stand up and speak for Scotland’s interests as a part of the UK. They’ve shown that the concept that Scotland might have distinct interests particular to it is completely alien to them. They’ve shown that they don’t believe Scotland to be a nation, just the North British province of Greater Englandshire. They’re not unionists at all. They’re British incorporationists who seek to ensure that Scotland possesses no distinct political identity at all.
If Ruth Davidson possessed even a gramme of the political heft which is so frequently imputed to her by a sycophantic Scottish media, she’d have used this leadership contest as an opportunity to assert herself. She could have announced that the Scottish Conservatives would return to their position pre-1965, and exist as an independent Scottish Conservative and Unionist party which supported the Conservatives in Westminster but which preserved its own independence, promoted its own policies, and existed in order to protect and defend Scottish interests within the UK. Instead she’s capitulated to her Westminster bosses. That’s precisely what she expects Scotland to do too.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
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