28 May 2019


Article for the Daily Mail

As one Tory colleague said, we stood on the beach watching the tsunami approach and simply let it hit us.

The result was as close to electoral wipe-out for Tories as I can remember in 27 years as an MP.

It was our failure to deliver Brexit on March 29 that led directly to the setting up of the Brexit Party and within it the seeds of our destruction.

Amid the wreckage of this political tsunami, some voices can be heard saying we need to keep to the middle ground and not over-react. They argue that it’s possible to construct a compromise that will see us through and even that we should re-visit Theresa May’s Withdrawal Bill.

But this is madness.

The way back is for the Tories to delivers Brexit – unlike Nigel Farage’s party, which just has the Brexit name but is powerless to actually deliver it.
We need a clear strategy to honour the will of the people who voted to leave the EU.

People who advocate taking the middle road should remember the words of the great Tory thinker Keith Joseph: It is the common ground we seek, not the middle ground.

The common ground for Tories is inhabited by those who recognise, whether they voted Remain or Leave, that the referendum result must be honoured. Faced by a national crisis, we need a leader with the power and vision to seize the initiative.

In 1940, Winston Churchill, was urged by the political Establishment to seek the easy way out and sue for peace with Hitler. It appeared the easiest option. Yet he defied the voices of compromise and captured the common ground, leading us to victory.

In 1979, too, Margaret Thatcher defied the political Establishment and placed her stake in the common ground to take on the unions and reinvigorate Britain’s economy.

The Conservative Party hasn’t been the most world’s most successful party in the democratic world by accident. It is because it has had the innate ability to align itself with the needs and wishes of the British people – to find that common ground.

For too long, we have sought compromise as an objective in itself. This has led to our current terrible mess. The time has come for an end to policies of damage limitation. The next leader must respond to this electoral kicking by making our policy on Brexit crystal clear by giving a concrete promise that Britain will leave the EU by October 31 – deal or No Deal.

The lessons of history tell us a great future for this nation will be founded on the strength and determination of the British people who actually believe in their country. It will never be  secured by a political Establishment wedded to compromise and sitting idly in the middle of the road.

Daily Mail