Time to purge the liberals – Brexit, a great opportunity for British conservatism
By Dr. Gregory Slysz
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent withdrawal of the whip from twenty-one Tory MPs after they joined forces with opposition parties to frustrate his Brexit agenda was a determined act to impose his stamp of authority on the Party. The protest came in the wake of his announcement in late August of his intention to prorogue Parliament in early September in order, so he said, to deliver a new Queen’s speech to outline his government’s programme. His opponents, however, thought otherwise. With the Brexit date of 31 October looming, they accused him of attempting to prevent proper scrutiny of his Brexit plans, which included leaving the EU on WTO rules, otherwise referred to, somewhat misleadingly, as a no deal Bexit. This, they claimed, would be an economic disaster and proceeded to take the government to court in a move that was never anything other than a diversionary tactic. Encouraged by shrieks of ‘outrage’ from the liberal media and political quarters about an impending coup, the twenty-one Tory MPs formed a tactical alliance with opposition parties, in collaboration with the Speaker, John Bercow, to hurry through a Bill that would not only deny Mr Johnson the option of removing Britain from the EU on WTO rules in the absence of a negotiated deal with Brussels but would also compel him to seek a further extension of Britain’s membership of the block. The prorogation issue was finally decided by the Supreme Court last week which after hearing appeals, one from the government against a decision by Scotland’s Court of Session and the other from anti-Brexiteers, the Supreme Court came down against the government. Whether or not the decision of unelected judges was in itself constitutional is a debate that doubtless will rumble on for years, yet another residue of the Brexit saga. What it will not do, however, is either make any difference to the outcome of Brexit or to mask the deception of those it ruled in favour of.
Although claiming to champion economic probity against the alleged folly of a no deal Brexit, this disparate ‘rebel alliance’ of cosmopolitan liberals and outright communists harboured a spectrum of motivations. For the left nationalists of the Scottish National Party the EU is an antidote to British Unionism, the irony of the EU’s internationalism and centralism seemingly lost on the Edinburgh comrades. For the Liberal Democrats and Blairite Labour MPs it is a bastion of cosmopolitan values and high wokeness while for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, and his merry band of economic Marxists, who though at heart see the EU as a capitalist conspiracy, nevertheless consider the woes of the current government as a means to power. As for the Tory mavericks, all remainers, similar deception governs their actions. Whether or not they represent constituencies which voted leave in the 2016 referendum – and about half of them do -, none of them have ever reconciled themselves with an unexpected referendum defeat. Despite subsequently standing on a manifesto in the 2017 general election that committed the Tory Party to Brexit, all have frustrated the process with wrecking amendments, campaigns for second referendums and a whole panoply of legal obstacles. While most of them were prepared to endorse the Brexit in name only deal negotiated by Boris Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, none of them are prepared to see Britain leave the EU in a meaningful way if they can help it. As such, their objections to a ‘no-deal’ Brexit look suspiciously like a ploy to scupper the Prime Minister’s negotiating position by removing any incentive for Brussels to offer Britain a tangible offer. Better to play the waiting game which could yield a fall of government or a second referendum. These suspicions seemed to be confirmed after it emerged that senior MPs sponsoring the aforementioned Bill, including several of the Tory mavericks, colluded with Brussels officials in seeking assurances that their quest for a three-month extension would be granted.
Depicted by the liberal media and political establishment as some kind of heroic insurgency against a Boris Johnson dictatorship, the Tory mavericks are no rebels but establishment-defending cosmopolitans, who view the 17.4 million Brexit voters with utter contempt. Even less are they Conservative. As an eclectic mix of privileged bankers, lawyers, business people and career politicians, they may well have found Tory ritual and pomp alluring, but their socially liberal and internationalist outlooks sets them apart both from Party members and Conservative voters in the country as a whole. It is of no surprise that fellow elitist David Cameron, who as the Prime Minister called the referendum back in 2016, has expressed his full support for them. Remembered for legislating gay marriage into British law, Mr Cameron is currently using the publication of his memoirs to launch vicious attacks on the Johnson government as well as to advocate a re-run of the referendum to break the deadlock in Parliament. And this from a man who in launching the referendum unequivocally declared it to be a ‘once in a generation’ -‘leave means leave’, ‘your voice will be respected’, ‘your decision, not politicians, not lobby groups, not parliaments’, ‘no re-negotiation’, ‘no second referendum’- referendum. That was before the peasants rebelled.
Ever since the fall of Margaret Thatcher, liberal entryists have sought to position the Tory Party on the Left of the political spectrum as far as social legislation is concerned. In this they have been successful as successive Tory governments have passed legislation that wouldn’t have been amiss in Lenin’s Soviet Union, no fault quick divorces, for instance, and mandatory explicit sex education being flag-ship policies of recent Tory governments. Consequently, the Tory Party has been complicit with socialists in the destruction of traditional certainties that as conservatives they should have guarded. Little surprise that the Tory malcontents are fanatically determined to keep Britain in the EU, whose hard left PC social outlook they champion above any economic considerations. Brexit, however, offers Boris Johnson an opportunity not only to rid the country of the EU’s shackles, but to purge the Party of these types and re-position it firmly on the Conservative right in the battle against the Leftist extremists that are menacing Britain with their radical cultural agenda. Although having lost his parliamentary majority with a recent defection to the Liberal Democrats, Mr Johnson knows that sooner or later there will need to be an election. And with support for the Tory Party running at around 35%, it would, together with the 12% of Nigel Farage’s Berxit Party, give the Conservative movement an unassailable electoral position.
Coming himself from a highly privileged background, Eton, Oxford and the rest, and not averse to liberal tendencies, Boris Johnson is perhaps not the best individual that comes to mind to take on the task of re-conservatizing Britain’s Tory Party. Yet above all else, he is an astute politician, having served two very successful terms as London mayor before becoming Prime Minister. A level of opportunism may well govern his outlook which provokes in observers a degree of scepticism about his motives, but so far, his determination to deliver Brexit has been impressive as has been his resolute stance against his opponents within his Party. This is turn has enabled him to undermine a liberal cohort that has assailed social conservatism for too long.
Notwithstanding the favourable opinion polls, there is rising demand from the public for solutions to Britain’s violence-riddled, broken society, caused by years of PC lunacy. What is also very telling is the collapse of the traditional political fault-line between the middle and working classes as illustrated by the Labour Party’s large-scale ceding of its erstwhile working class votes in recent elections to Nigel Farage’s conservative Brexit Party. Alongside this there has emerged huge contempt among the public for the parliamentary process, largely emanating from the failure of Parliament to honour the result of the Brexit referendum, three years on. The raucous scenes in the House of Commons during the prorogation debates caused by remain MPs and egged on by the Speaker, which ended with renditions of communist anthems, sent a clear message to voters of the duplicitous and obstructive nature of the opposition forces in British politics.
Consequently, amidst the current political turmoil, Boris Johnson has abundant opportunities for history-making developments. He can not only deliver on Brexit but also turn the Tory Party into a genuine conservative force. In this, he must resist all attempts to restore the whip to the errant liberals unless they fully submit to conservative values, as well as continue to purge those who do share a conservative vision for Britain. Many have already jumped, defecting to blatantly anti-Brexit parties, forming their own parties, or quitting politics altogether, revealing their true ideological colours in the process. Mr Johnson has already assembled a cabinet that has shifted significantly towards social conservatism. With the backing of the overwhelming majority of the Tory Party and with the country increasingly rallying to his cause, Mr Johnson has been afforded a rare opportunity of rescuing Britain from its many woes and in so doing marking his premiership with considerable distinction.
Dr. Gregory Slysz writes on History and current affairs. He read History and Politics at Oxford and London universities.