No buts, no maybes, May has butted out. And this week Tory MP’s begin voting on who’s to take her place. Boris Johnson is the current runaway favourite. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, it’s Jeremy Corbyn who needs to put his thinking cap on.
Jezza played a blinder last week. When Labour beat the Brexit party at the Peterborough by-election, he said hoorah! The punters love my policies!
Yerright. His lot did win, but only after they’d seen their vote share drop by a whopping seventeen per cent.
If that’s a success you might as well call the Dunkirk retreat a glorious victory.
In fairness, we Brits did live to fight another day. And Corbyn’s consolation was that the Tories’ vote share dropped even further.
Which is why Boris Johnson genuinely is feeling chipper. Tory MP’s in marginal seats, naturally terrified that the next general election will cost them their jobs, are more likely than ever to choose him as their leader.
His detractors accuse him of being irresponsible, untrustworthy, careless about detail and casual with the truth. But, hell, what’s not to like – when the man looks like a winner?
Of course, the final choice, from the shortlist of two drawn up by the MP’s, will rest with the 100,000 or so party activists.
Most of them actually want to leave the European Union without a deal, so they’re more than happy that Bojo’s cool with just that.
A lot could happen between now and next month. But the former London Mayor’s good at somehow turning adversity to advantage. And keeping his cojones intact.
Remember that time he got stuck on a zip wire? Check out the footage.
Maybe he was wearing a cast-iron jockstrap. Or maybe the Union Jack he had in each hand helped in some way.
Bojo will certainly be waving them around in coming weeks (the flags that is, not the cojones, one assumes). And thus the likelihood of Britain potentially crashing chaotically out of the EU looms larger.
Which is where Jeremy Corbyn comes in.
Whoever snatches the Tory leadership prize will still be stuck with the roadblock of a house of commons refusing point-blank to countenance a no deal departure. Or the terms thrashed out by Theresa May. Meaning Prime Minister Johnson would in all likelihood have to call a general election.
Apart from the fact Corbyn’s always seen the European Union as some sort of capitalist conspiracy, he’s stuck with the problem of loads of Labour voters heartily agreeing with him.
Sounds fine, except that most of his most ardent supporters do not. And in the European elections last month he lost significantly more votes to remain backing parties than the other way round.
Which brings us back to cojones. He’s been straddling the second referendum fence so long it’s amazing he’s got any kind of functioning undercarriage left.
But more and more influential Labour folk are saying if he’s got the good sense to plump for the people’s vote the keys to Number Ten could be his for the taking.
And there’s no doubt the gap between those on either side of the Brexit argument makes the English Channel look like a tinkling little brook. And it gets wider all the time.
In place of Theresa May’s determined but doomed deal-making drive we now face a yet starker choice. Between bollicks to Johnny Foreigner and bollicks to Brexit.
And events of last week underline the significance of the times we’re living in.
Somehow or other Donald Trump managed to not French-kiss the Queen or nick the NHS, and even held back from tweeting that Hitler was his kinda guy.
But his trip was timed to coincide with commemorations of cataclysmic events of seventy-five years ago. And, in keeping his trap shut during ceremonies marking the D-Day landings, the Trump somehow managed, momentarily, to chime with the mood of the nation.
Whichever army you’ve joined in the uncivil war that is Brexit, there can be no doubt the crisis facing the nation is the biggest since those traumatic, war-torn days.
And the sense that the hand of history is on our shoulders is palpable.
In many parts of the country, at least as far west as Fowey in Cornwall, flotillas of little boats took to the water on Thursday to salute the allied service personnel who gave their lives on June 6th, 1944.
And could there even have been the odd petit mort on the River Fowey on Thursday of last week?
In these hazy, crazy, abandoned times all things are possible.
For god’s sake, we’ve just seen Tory leadership contenders Gove and Stewart fessing up to fun with naughty salt and wacky baccy back in the day.
Then there was The Donald eyeing up the NHS, though it’s not clear if he had in mind to smoke or snort it.
And, barmiest of all, wannabe PM Dom Raab seemed to think the way to get Brexit done is to shut down parliament till it’s all over. Simples.
After all, Charles 1st managed without for eleven years. Though in the end it didn’t do a lot for his role as head of state. In his case mort was definitely less.
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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