I am relieved to hear that the 1922 Committee has set a deadline for electing a new Party Leader at 2 September, bringing forward David Cameron’s proposed date of 2 October but I don’t think it is good enough. We have a country led by a Prime Minister who has lost most of his power and we have an official Opposition in total chaos and facing implosion. The markets are reacting and I am not surprised. We need leadership and we need it now.
Despite this, it seems that umpteen Conservative MPs are considering putting themselves forward for the selection process. Why? Mainly to feed their own egos and, I suspect, to garnish their political CVs for the future. What seems to be obvious to me is that our next leader needs to be from Brexit. Anything else would be a farce. What is even more obvious is that the person is going to be Boris. Theresa May was a Remain candidate, however sotto voce but she could not credibly lead our journey out of the EU and she does not have the warmth and communication skills to unite the nation.
For me and I suspect I will be accused of naivety, there is only one solution. Boris needs to do a deal before Thursday to create a government of national unity to take us through the exit strategy for the EU. He needs to head it and it needs to include Michael Gove in a key position and probably to lead the exit process. It should include Theresa May and I don’t see why she should not continue as Home Secretary which she had done well. Osborne is a more difficult one because he failed comprehensively as Chancellor of the Exchequer but restoring party unity may require him to have a job. If so, it needs to be away from the European area.
Now I come to the controversial bits. I think we need to include Nigel Farage and Gisela Stuart. Farage is a UKIP MEP and Stuart is a Labour MP so neither is a natural member of a Conservative Cabinet but Farage has started the process that has given us our country back and Stuart was brave and brilliant in her role in the Leave campaign. Both of them can support the process of EU departure. Despite the bloated size of the House of Lords, perhaps Farage deserves a peerage and Stuart could be a Labour MP in the Cabinet?
One further thought, with Corbyn’s shadow cabinet falling apart, there ought to be room for another Labour MP or two, someone like John Healey who is a very decent chap and, maybe, Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall to be part of this government of national unity, without having to resign their Labour Party membership.
Beyond that, there is plenty of talent in the Conservative Party to fill places in the Cabinet and beyond and it is important these should reflect the breadth of Conservative Party opinion.
If Cameron could tolerate a coalition with the Liberals and, given he has had the statesmanship to stand down after failing to secure a Remain decision, I think we need some statesmanship from the likes of Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Crabb, Dominic Raab, Liam Fox and George Osborne to allow us to have a new Prime Minister pretty damned quick because it is what the country needs.
Not very democratic? It is not! It would deny Conservative Party members the right to choose the final candidate but the need of the country is greater than the need of a smaller number of Party members so I will forgo that privilege to get a leader for the country as a matter of urgency. It could be within ten days.
It will also leave the Labour Party arguing over their leadership and pave the way for a speedy general election to endorse Boris as Prime Minister. What is wrong with that except a few bruised egos among the Westminster elite?