Will Brexit vote sink the good ship Tory?

'The Conservative Party always bounces back from whatever crisis it faces,' the Tories' political enemies frankly admit. 'It will never disappear,' they add.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 8:17 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 9:21 am
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

But will the battle over Britain’s continued membership, or otherwise, of the European Union prove them wrong?

So, with Referendum Day, June 23, still nearly three months away, there is every prospect that the Tories, already split down the middle on this issue, could be fatally wounded by what is turning out to be a vicious civil war, and be consigned to oblivion. And even if that did not happen, and the battle was won by the Brexiteers, David Cameron, who is leading the campaign to retain membership, would have lost the vital authority necessary when you are at the helm.

In short, he might have to stand down some two years before he planned to do so – towards the end of this Parliament. He may be testing the green back-benches a little before he wishes to.

But it is not the campaign alone that could drive the Tories to self-mutilation – but the aftermath could be just as toxic, if not more so.

So if the Euro-quitters win, it will not simply be a case of membership one day and non-membership the next. Oh no! If the EU can complicate what you might have thought was a simple issue, it will do so.

Therefore, the pundits are already saying it could be at least two years before the United Kingdom becomes independent again, free from the shackles of Brussels, in the wake of a Brexit victory.

And it would be during those two years that the really serious damage could be inflicted on the Conservative Party.

So Cameron bears the awesome responsibility of not only saving his own political skin, but that of the Conservative Party after decades of glorious (or inglorious, depending on how you think) history.

Poor old George Osborne, the Chancellor, seems to have disappeared from the pundits’ list of Tory leadership hopefuls in the wake of his now much-derided budget.

He need not despair. The pundits have been wrong every time they have predicted a political leader.

Hope springs eternal...