News from Grassroots conservatives
15 Jun 2019
Under the headline “Tory faithful look for Rotweiler to deliver hard Brexit” The Financial Times of June 15th reports that the Tory faithful who are about to choose the UK’s next prime minister in a leadership election, are despondent after disastrous results in local and European elections.
The FT reports that they are furious with the government for “bungling” the aftermath of the 2016 referendum on EU membership, and are alarmed that the ensuing chaos has so damaged the Conservative brand that the party might be frozen out of power for years. Delivering Brexit has become the overarching priority in selecting a successor to Theresa May.
“The party is doomed if they don’t buckle down and get on with it [Brexit],” said Ed Costelloe, a 72-year old chartered surveyor, and lifelong Tory member who lives in the Somerset village of Nunney. “We need a government that promotes the upside of no-deal.”
His views reflect a hardening desire among Tory members for rupture with Europe, regardless of whether divorce terms governing security relations, trade, UK liabilities and the Irish border are in place. There are around 160,000 paid up members of the party, down from a peak of 3m in the 1950s.
Recent analysis by Prof Tim Bale and Paul Webb of the University of Sussex, shows that around two-thirds of party members are in favour of leaving the EU without a deal, compared to just a fifth of the wider electorate.
Mr Costelloe in Somerset fears that if they don’t leave the bloc, the Tories will continue to haemorrhage support to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party, which came first in last month’s European elections with just under a third of the vote. The Conservatives recorded their worst result in history with just 9 per cent.
“Crashing out [of the EU] would improve the party’s chances at a general election because the Brexit party would have no purpose,” said Mr Costelloe, who is also the founder of Grassroots Conservatives, a pressure group.
Feelings run as strongly some 200 miles to the east, in the London suburb of Hornchurch, bordering Essex, where a group of members discussed the leadership contest at the local Conservative club. Tax cuts offered by several candidates were not a priority for the group.
They preferred the idea of redirecting some of the UK foreign aid budget to domestic causes, including the cash-strapped police. But they were clear that Brexit must be the immediate priority.
Read the full 1100 word article here: https://www.ft.com/world/uk . (Behind paywall)