Young Conservative member DAN SEAMARKS on why a fresh referendum is the only way to save the Tory party.
Theresa May could well be the second Conservative prime minister hounded out over Europe and the second female. It’s shocking but not surprising.
For the past three years, the ERG and DUP have had disproportionate control over the Brexit process, with the prime minister pandering to them at every turn to get her deal over the line. Less shockingly, it still hasn’t worked.
The ERG have no interest in the prime minister’s personal position or, it seems, the party being held together.
Which is why, as the dust settles on last night’s second round of indicative votes, it’s time for Conservative MPs, and the prime minister, to look at the clear pathway ahead of them and take the ultimate compromise, not the sacrifice.
It’s easy to read headlines like ‘chaos’ or ‘parliament rules out all options’. But let’s not kid ourselves, there is momentum and progress towards a solution for the government.
In the second phase of voting 280 MPs from across all parties and none voted for the Kyle-Wilson compromise, losing by just 12 votes. Six Conservatives voted for it for the first time, including Huw Merriman, who says that despite being committed to leaving the European Union, it may be time for parliament to call a People’s Vote.
We also saw a number of Conservative abstentions which shows where the party is going. Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham, abstained on a confirmatory referendum for the second time. Sarah Newton, who resigned last week, also abstained.
Philip Hammond is rumoured to be suggesting to cabinet that a referendum may be the only way out. Attaching a confirmatory referendum to the Withdrawal Agreement would almost certainly bring enough votes from across the house on side to win.
Let’s be real about this. A People’s Vote isn’t another option in the Brexit process – it’s a solution to the Brexit crisis.
It is the only proposal which now seems to be able to command enough support to deliver on the result of the referendum and the Conservative party manifesto. If the country votes to say it’s changed its mind? Well, the Conservatives have always been about democracy and it’s that principle we must now stand behind.
So, there’s a stark choice for the prime minister. Does she want to drag this country off the cliff edge and destroy her legacy entirely, simply to appease the ERG? Or, with one final show of humility, back a moderate option which might just keep some semblance of a premiership and legacy alive.
Parliament has already taken control. Prime minister, it’s time to end the chaos, pass the deal and let the country have the final say.
• Dan Seamarks is a Young Conservative member and a supporter of the anti-Brexit movement For our Future’s Sake.