Is the credibility and future of the Conservative Party in Britain under serious threat with the failure of the leadership of Theresa May and the Conservative Party in general?
A recent Opinion poll ahead of the European elections shows the Conservative Party is polling at 11% behind the Liberal Democrats, Labour and crucially, the Brexit party, who is polling at 34%. Has the Brexit deadlock and the aftermath of the Brexit referendum result, destroyed the Conservative Party?
Chaos In The Tory Party?
Since Britain’s accession to the EU, there has been clear division in the mainstream parties such as the Conservatives and Labour. Even Britain’s most arguably powerful leader, Margaret Thatcher, had serious preservations about the EU, including mentioning that years after resigning as prime minister, that she would have never signed such a treaty as the Maastricht Treaty despite having quite similar economic policies to that of the EU. It was of course under John Major, that the Conservative Party signed up to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The Maastricht Treaty, possibly, most of all, caused the next stage of chaos in the Conservative Party. Significant figures such as Nigel Farage, resigned from the Conservative Party due to his serious preservations about EU membership itself. After his resignation from the Conservative Party, Farage became a significant figure as a prominent Eurosceptic, being elected as an MEP since 1999 under UKIP and his leadership. His presence in the European Parliament grew year after year and eventually led to the Brexit referendum. While Britain was a member of the EU, it actually was never fully onboard with the European project and has been one of the EU’s most troubling member states over recent decades since the head of the European project. Was the Brexit referendum when chaos in the Conservative Party completely reached peak levels?
Did The Brexit Referendum Reach Peak Levels Of Chaos In The Conservative Party?
The Brexit referendum process demonstrated the huge levels of chaos in the Conservative Party. Instead of imposing the party whip on his party, David Cameron, decided to give a free vote to Conservative MPs and to campaign on whatever side of the referendum that they wanted to. Figures such as Boris Johnson fought for the leave side of the Brexit referendum, arguing that Britain needed to take back control from the EU itself. UKIP leader, at the time, and now Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage, argued on a project fear basis, similar to that of Boris Johnson. He wanted Britain to return to the greatness of the British empire days, which is completely unrealistic for the modern age. Cameron campaigned on the remain side of the referendum as did Jeremy Hunt, who has changed his stance on the EU in recent years, and has backed to deliver on the Brexit referendum result. If Cameron was to impose party discipline, he should have imposed the party whip on MPs and ensure that they would be on united on one side of the referendum campaign. This could have prevented the chaos that has erupted from division in the Conservatives. The referendum result reflected this division amongst the British public as well as British politics. With a look to the future for the Conservative Party, what does the future hold for the Conservative Party?
It is hard to say what the future holds for the Conservative Party with Theresa May announcing that she would step down when the Brexit process is complete. At this moment, Brexit is due to be complete by the 31st October 2019, but, could be extended further and further with no deal currently being reached despite cross party talks with Jeremy Corbyn. With May stepping back after Brexit is complete, this would trigger a leadership contest in the Tory party, with the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove emerging as contenders for the leadership. This could mean that the Tory party may be lead by a prominent Brexiteer in Johnson who is also sceptical towards the Irish border and the Johnson family to Ireland itself. With a General Election maybe in prospect, the Conservative Party is under threat with keeping its slight majority in government, with the possibility of the DUP alliance breaking in the lead up to the next General Election in Britain. The future certainly looks bleak for the Tories with their supporting clearly diminishing to the likes of the Brexit party and Labour.
The Brexit referendum certainly triggered and showed one thing that is key in British politics, that division within the Conservative Party has always been prominent since the 1980s.