Well, now we know who won’t be doing it. The day of the Ascot Gold Cup opened with Rory Stewart the media fascinator barred from the enclosure, as it were; then it was out with Sajid Javid, about whom I have had serious doubts since he threw dumb teenager Shamima Begum and a culpably mistreated Julian Assange to the wolves.
And finally Michael Gove, who shot himself in the foot (again) with his comments on forestalling No Deal, by far the strongest card in our hand provided the player can credibly threaten to use it.
We’re left with perky Hunt, the Debating Chamber face-puller, and BoJo the runaway steamroller. Hunt is making noises about having been a Remainer but now being pragmatic about Leave. Boris has the energy, bullishness, skill and experience to lead a team of colleagues rather than just civil servants, but we still can’t be sure to what destination.
Of concern are the rumours I’m getting that Boris is hoping to manoeuvre the EU into dropping the Irish backstop but is otherwise prepared to countenance the gist of May’s WA. That, I think, will be the end of the Conservative Party, sooner rather than later, and no amount of hand-clapping will revive Tinkerbell. It will also be the end of the country, not with a bang but with a whimper, after its four decades of forced decline. Plus the end of hope for what’s left of the British working class. We will become what Ken Clarke has always wanted, merely a minor, fog-prone arrondissement of the European superstate.
If I might make a suggestion, Mister Johnson?
Work feverishly, now, on the assumption of winning the leadership. Call in your campaign manager and liaise with Farage’s team, wrap wet towels round foreheads and burn the midnight oil to draft our very own Withdrawal Agreement. Make it such a reasonable one that if Barnier and co. turn it down the world will know whom to blame.
You’ll need to do this ASAP in any case, since you’ll be answering questions on this when the membership hustings begin. Get the detail people in, just brief them that, have no doubt, we are going that way.
Don’t fly over to Europe as UK leader, like a whey-faced supplicant. They’ve manipulated, mocked and abused us when we did that. Send the draft with an emissary who can look the EU’s team full in the face and tell them it’s their last chance, not ours. Dangle the £39 billion carrot.
And tell them that if they can’t get it together to agree WA 2.0, then hello to WTO Section 24 for an interim working arrangement – maybe, just maybe, with a sweetener, but how much that might be is conditional on their showing signs of sincere effort to conclude a mutually acceptable deal.
Parallel with that, instruct our team/s to make detailed plans for the No Deal scenario. The better this is prepared, the less likely it will have to be used; but like the nuclear deterrent, everything depends on credibility.
Be ready, be strong.
Or give up, now, and watch the nation dissolve into lasting disorder.