Tory Brexiteers now owe the rest of us Leavers big style

Tory Brexiteers now owe the rest of us Leavers big style

Dear Tory Brexiteers,

First I would like to say thank you for providing so many voices for Brexit in the referendum last year. We could not have won it without you or your contingent of big political hitters and their even more numerous supporting cast. Thank you Boris and Michael, Priti and Andrea, David and Liam, Chris and Iain (especially Iain in fact, but that’s another story) and countless others.

But secondly, please understand if Brexiteers from other parties and none feel the need for a short while to take the name of your party in vain after the entirely unnecessary election, called by a premier who had backed Remain for the apparent purpose of taking personal ownership of Brexit and then run with such staggering ineptitude.

In fact, I need to unleash a primal scream about the whole self-indulgent, deeply unedifying mess: “Noooooo, arrrgggghhhhh!!!!! You over-entitled idiots, you complacent ninnies, what have you just gone and done to our beautiful Brexit? What landmines have you laid in the Commons to blow our own legs off over the next two years? What encouragement have you given the EU-phile Lords to throw more spanners in the works? What about Mr Juncker? How did you manage to exchange a small but reliable Commons majority for a hung bloody Parliament? Arrgggghh, noooo and argghhh again.”

At one point on election night it looked like Theresa May had completely screwed Brexit. For a horrific ten minutes or so the spread betting companies had Jeremy Corbyn as favourite to be Prime Minister. And even though the Labour manifesto committed to Brexit, we all know where that party’s real centre of gravity is on matters EU.

Now, I had been braced for UKIP to do terribly at the TOTALLY UNNECESSARY (did I say that already?) general election: we were not remotely ready for it, our resources were badly depleted, our talisman had left the field of battle, our USP had been adopted by much more powerful parties – notably yours – and some of our members wanted to stand aside altogether while others thought we should contest every seat.

But UKIP doing very badly should have been tolerable because obviously you Conservatives were going to win a thumping majority on the basis of a straight-down-the-line Brexit manifesto that promised to get Britain out of the jursidiction of the ECJ, out of the single market, out of the customs union and out of freedom of movement obligations.

Instead you managed to turn the local elections into the Brexit election and then ran the general election as a series of vacuous and robotically enunciated soundbites repeated ad infinitum and an argument about penalising the grey vote. The grey vote, goddammit! So on the night of 8th June and the morning of 9th June, Brexit had a near-death experience that none of us were expecting.

And let’s be frank, the best news Brexit had over the weekend did not come from the Conservative Party where the likes of Nicky Morgan, George Osborne and Lord Heseltine were on manoeuvres but from Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell who said in terms that only by leaving the single market could the referendum vote be honoured. Phew.

Given that – and the DUP’s wholly understandable long-term antipathy to Jeremy Corbyn – we might just have got away with it by the skin of our teeth. Something reasonably stable may emerge from a confidence and supply arrangement.

We can in fact also point out, as Nigel Farage and others have been busy doing, that around 85% of voters backed parties committed to Brexit and that the outright Brexit-denial parties – the Lib Dems, SNP and Greens – all lost vote share.

But there is something else to say. How can I put this delicately? Whereas we owed you for your splendid contribution to the conduct of the Leave campaign, you now owe the rest of us big style for the cluster-type incident that was the 2017 general election – the thing that risked spilling many gallons of dirty crude oil into the beautifully uncontaminated waters of our Brexit mandate of 2016.

Only time will tell how much damage has been done. Some pundits say almost none while others reckon it could be all over for what they call “hard Brexit” and we call Brexit.

Now I know that very few of you had much direct influence on the decision of Mrs May to call the election (stop shuffling your feet please, David) and that in fact she only informed the Cabinet minutes before making the announcement.

But nonetheless, you must take collective responsibility for entrusting the post-referendum Brexit process to a Remain-voting premier in the first place.

She was supposed to be temperamentally suited to the task of transporting our precious Ming vase across the crowded room and putting it safely on the sideboard. But instead she decided to throw it in the air while donning roller skates, falling on her backside and relying on some well-upholstered Ulstermen to cushion the impact. Is it broken? Is it cracked? Are there bits missing? We just don’t know yet.

So speaking as a passionate Brexiteer from another party, let me say this: can you please get your act together? Can you acknowledge that you are the guardians of something very precious that has never wholly belonged to you? Can you remind your Remain-inclined colleagues that they were elected on an entirely Brexit manifesto too? Can you use the dark arts you were once so good at to sort out the most recalcitrant of them?

In short, can you please make it up to the rest of us for the most reckless political act in two generations?

Now pick up the vase, hold it tight, carry it across the room and put it down on the sideboard. And do it carefully.