The Parliamentary Conservative Party is split down the middle over whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union. This is a fundamental difference of opinion that could ruin the Tories.
Worse still, David Cameron seems determined to refuse them the right to express their differing opinions, in an attempted show of unity that will only increase and accelerate the schism. That is a lesson from history – but of course, modern Conservatives don’t believe in evidence-based decision-making.
Even more revealing is the fact that Tories are growing increasingly restive over Cameron’s lame attempt to force the other EU nations into changing the conditions of membership – but not in any way that is meaningful, as far as many members believe. Look at Jacob Rees-Mogg’s outburst about it on the BBC’s Question Time on December 17.
So Cameron’s behaviour has set half his MPs against him, because they don’t agree with remaining in the EU under any circumstances, and he has set the other half against him, because they think he hasn’t done enough to strengthen the argument for remaining in the EU.
And now Parliament has gone into its Christmas break, giving the whole Conservative Party time to stew in its own juices.
The PR prime minister has said he wants an in-out referendum on the EU sooner, rather than later, thereby putting even more pressure on his party, and jeopardising its public image.
What do Tories do, when they feel threatened – either in their own beliefs or in the eyes of the public?
They stab their leader in the back and get a new one.
Are we looking at Brexit, or at Camexit?
(If the latter, I’ll really need to find a better word for it.)
Steve Baker, who is co-chairman of Conservatives for Britain, which is allied to Vote Leave, said he thought the majority of Tory MPs were leaning towards joining the leave campaign and that trend was evident throughout the party.
He said: “The party is about evenly leaning each way. Looking back carefully at my canvassing, I think there might be about 130 MPs in total who might lean in favour of voting to remain. That is a minority in the Conservative party and I think that is throughout government as well.”
He said “over half of the Conservative party is strongly leaning to leave”.
Warning that there would be “problems ahead” if Cameron did not allow free campaigning on both sides of the debate, he said: “I think for the sake of the country, party and quality of debate it would be much better if ministers have freedom to speak their mind on the EU issue.”
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