Boris Johnson quits the Conservative Party’s leadership race – but the full corollary of his defeat is yet to come.

by richardhutton

Well, it came to pass: Boris Johnson is the only Tory leadership candidate who realises that the Conservative party’s goose is well and truly cooked; and has withdrawn from the contest. Whatever his party does now, it is almost certainly going to be consigned to electoral oblivion one way or another, within a matter of years. Either it enacts Article 50, triggers the formal withdrawal of Britain from the European Union, and destroys the economy while breaking-up the United Kingdom; or it annuls the result of the referendum, and alienates a large number – if not the majority – of its supporters.

So, the Conservatives are liable to go either the same way as the Liberal Democrats; or are finished-off wholesale as a party of government. Whatever happens, it’s now facing its demise. The last escape route it had was to call a snap general election, lose it; and then pass the buck to Labour – who could have voided the referendum with minimal political blowback, given that most of their supporters voted to remain in the EU. Those Labour supporters who voted to leave the European Union would probably have settled for continued EU membership under a Labour government, which was committed to reforming the EU. Labour would also have addressed the economic woes which impelled the Brexit vote, with the programme that they had begun to formulate.

But that won’t happen now, thanks to the Blairite coup. So, article 50 will loom over the Tory leadership contest – and nobody wants to enact it; which means repudiating most of their vote-base. Probably to Ukip.

What’s more, the Blairites will now be finished-off – because if Angela Eagle wins a leadership contest against Corbyn, she will bring about the party’s demise. The left will desert it; leaving it with a minimal vote-base. The Unions have given a strong indication that if Corbyn is deposed undemocratically, they will abandon the Labour party. Those behind the coup have made it clear that they intend to lurch to the right; and the further right Labour has gone, the worse its electoral results have been.

So, who will vote for an openly right-wing Labour party, wed to both neo-liberalism and anti-immigration politics? Some left-wing columnists have begun to devise a rationale – that the party will be bad, but the Tories would be worse. This is debatable in its own right; but it is also devoid – as soon as the Tory party have made their decision on Brexit, they’re liable to go up in smoke. So who will support New New Labour; wed to the economic policies and politics which, combined, have lead to Brexit? Even if the remnants of each party unite, it will mean that there is only one neo-liberal party contesting elections – not two dominating them, and ensuring that there is never any divergence.

Alternatively, Corbyn remains in place, and the Blairites will be removed from the party; because the split in Labour is not between left and right – but between the majority of its members, supporters, Councillors, Unions, and the leadership on the one hand; and most of the party’s MPs on the other.

The question is one of collateral damage – the Blairites are about to destroy themselves; but may take the Labour party down with them. Thatcherism is now liable to ensure that the Tory party is finished as an electoral force; but may take the country down with them. It could all have been avoided, of course. All of it.

The media built David Cameron up, when he has put the country on the verge of disaster. The same media has torn Jeremy Corbyn down, when he offered a straightforward solution to the present scenario. Numerous publications have made a concerted effort to bring the country to this situation, by misleading people about the causes of economic problems and government failures – blaming them on the free movement of workers; which, paradoxically, are an intrinsic element of the economic system which these same publications are determined to uphold. Something has to give. The Brexit vote makes that unavoidable.

The status quo is not an option now. Those wed to neo-liberalism still don’t realise that their entire worldview has just fallen apart; and a painful reality check awaits. A lot of people have made beds for themselves, and they will have to lie in them.

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