Boris Johnson is to be congratulated for sacking the 21 Tory MPs who voted to block a No Deal Brexit this week. It was a radical move on his part, but contrary to what the moaners and whingers have been bleating about, it was not without precedent in parliamentary history. Furthermore, the rebels knew exactly what they were doing.
These self-serving men and women – many of them not proper Conservatives anyway – all received fair warning that their arrogance and disloyalty would have consequences. When you commit an act of political sabotage, you earn your punishment.
Johnson’s decisiveness proves something much more significant than just his ability to bring his party to heel, however. For the events of this summer confirm that the centre of gravity in British politics is shifting inexorably in favour of Brexit. A much-needed realignment is taking place. I have been arguing for this for years and I am only too delighted that the swamp is being drained at last.
Since mid-August, two Tory MPs, Sarah Woollaston and Phillip Lee, have defected to the Liberal Democrats. This is direct evidence of the sort of repositioning I have in mind. These turncoats were not prepared to honour the Conservatives’ Brexit manifesto pledge on which they stood happily at the 2017 general election, so they have decamped. That neither MP has had the courage to hold a by-election having crossed the floor tells you all you need to know about their true principles and priorities, incidentally. Frankly, the Liberal Democrats deserve them.
At the same time, other Remain Tory MPs have announced that they will not stand for election again. To them I say: good riddance.
If you are not prepared to respect the wishes of the majority of British people, but instead use your privileged position in public life to try to render their votes meaningless, you have no place in politics anyway. It is my sincere wish that other Remain agitators will follow the lead of disgraceful figures like Oliver Letwin in retiring so that real democracy can be restored.
It is remarkable to think that in 1993, at the height of the heated debates over the Maastricht Treaty, then-prime minister John Major labelled those Eurosceptics in his Cabinet with whom he disagreed as ‘bastards’. Twenty-six years later, is it not the case that the roles have been reversed, and that the Remainers are in fact the bastards? One need only think of the extent of the plotting and scheming of former Conservative chancellor Philip Hammond to realise how appropriate Major’s colourful language is.
Hammond, and other pro-EU fanatics like him, has contributed to this country’s political reputation on the international stage being questioned and in some cases lampooned since 2016. In America, there is widespread amazement that not only has the Brexit vote been disregarded so far, but that Britain would want to remain shackled to an undemocratic political union.
If the skirmishes and battles being fought by Johnson are to have any meaning at all, and the general election which this country so badly needs is to result in the pro-Brexit outcome which the majority of voters crave, the prime minister must take the obvious next step of agreeing an electoral pact with The Brexit Party.
I welcome the comments made this week by the new chairman of the ERG, Steve Baker, who warned that Britain will “lose” Brexit unless Johnson does a deal with my party. Baker knows it is blindingly obvious that the Tories simply cannot secure seats in certain parts of the country that voted Leave, but that The Brexit Party would win there. Having spent Wednesday evening in Doncaster, which I would cite as a case in point, this has never been clearer to me.
Johnson should cast his mind back to the European elections in May, in which his party came fifth, and ask himself: does he want the Tories to find themselves in a similarly disastrous position when the results of the next general election come in, or does he want to sign a non-aggression with me and return to Downing Street?
I am 100 per cent sincere in this offer. We are not playing political games. I have spent more than 25 years fighting for Brexit. It is now within our grasp – I can almost taste it.