So he has done what most people would regard as the honourable thing: announced he’s quitting much earlier than planned. But by calling a referendum, he brought it on himself, in what has been described as the ‘biggest Prime Ministerial miscalculation since Suez’.
His has been an effective Premiership and he will go down as a good, if not great, Prime Minister. Although he took an almighty personal risk in calling the referendum at all, it is a pity to see his tenure end in tears rather than glory.
Who will be the next Tory leader? My guess is that the long-serving home secretary Theresa May has as good a chance as any. She was said to be a Remain supporter, but steered clear of all the mud-slinging and insult-hurling that dominated the campaign. The idea of Boris Johnson at No 10 is too ridiculous to contemplate (but we could be wrong), while George Osborne appears to have run out of steam. I suggest a small wager on May could pay dividends...
Jeremy Corbyn’s future as Labour leader now looks bleak. He’s come under intense fire for having conducted what was seen as a half-hearted, passionless, lukewarm campaign to stay in the EU. His efforts have been widely criticised – even though probably a majority of Labour MPs wanted to quit the EU.
Following the sacking of Hilary Benn and the resignations of a series of shadow cabinet ministers, Corbyn’s position seems desperate.
He has said he will not budge. He was elected with a strong mandate, largely because of the feebleness of the rival candidates and partly because some ‘moronic’ (their word, not mine) middle-of-the-road Labour MPs ‘democratically’ made Corbyn eligible to stand. They are now paying a heavy price for that – but they are the authors of their own misfortune.
Corbyn has stoked the blaze by sacking the shadow foreign secretary. Benn was probably the most brilliant member of a not very illustrious shadow cabinet. Many MPs would like to see him as leader but would the trade union leaders, who seem to have control of the leadership election system, allow that? I doubt it.