As Boris makes a remarkable gesture towards Brussels, Hunt is working overtime to establish himself as the ‘Centrist’ candidate acceptable to soft Brexiteers, the Globalist Giga-Rich and the Conservative middle ground. The Slog analyses their chances.
The Westminster, MSM and Tory grassroots rumour mills have finally made their minds up about Theresa May: she is doomed. But so far, there is no plan to usurp her authority at Conference. All the various factions intent on getting her out seem to be taking the view that – given enough rope next week – she will hang herself: the faint praise of mild applause will, they think, seal her fate.
Although the Bookies continue to make Boris Johnson the front-runner to replace Theresa May, turf accountants are not renowned for their in-depth knowledge of how the Conservative Party works. Nor do they grasp the Who’s Who of the Alt States. Given that context, as of today I believe there to be only two serious candidates: Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson.
At one level, their rivalry is already shaping up to be The Times versus The Telegraph. The latter’s candidate is very clearly Boris. In a lengthy but pointed essay this morning, BoJo nailed his colours to the mast of what he called a ‘Super-Canada’ deal. But in what may at first seem like a risky move, Johnson made the remarkable suggestion that Britain should withdraw it’s request to leave the EU, in order have more time to better prepare for the departure to come.
The suggestion will dismay what I’d call Sovereign Brexiteers, who overwhelmingly feel that enough time has been wasted already. But in truth, this is classic Boris stuff: for all his image as a swashbuckling and decisive politician and Man of the People, he is none of those things. He tries to please several Alt States – the City, Newscorp, the Barclay Twins, the neocons – but having hedged his bets, he dithers. He literally caught the last train at 11.55 pm to Brexit Central, and the day after the referendum – surprised to find his team had won – BoJo looked phased, ill at ease and keen to take things slowly. The next day, he went to play cricket with his chums, joined in a barbecue and got drunk. It took him an uncomfortably long time to resign after having gained sight of the Chequers Plan.
It is primarily ambition that drives his demand for Sovereign Brexit: there is little or no evidence that he really wants it. He gambles that it is the populist stance, that it is what Rupert Murdoch wants, that his rabidly anti-Putin stance over the Skripal affair did enough to establish his position with the oil-Pentagon-State Department movers, and that Tories already glum about the Party’s Election chances will rally to his populist banner.
Indeed, the Barclay Boys obliged him by making that last point today, spinning like mad in their assertion that “prominent Tories” are now rallying behind Johnson’s ‘Plan B’ for Brexit. But the only name they could come up with was Jacob Rees-Mogg…not exactly a surprise. The reality is that Boris has never been able to “shake the flake”: he gets into all kinds of hot water, does daft things, says awkward things and has umpteen skeletons rattling away in his cupboard.
So while Kate Hoey is correct in her assessment that the Conservative Party is shifting towards taking a tougher line in the Brexit negotiations (Only Brussels can do this, because it pisses off the allies other enemies cannot reach) in fact there is someone – a man I am sure is, in the long game, The Chosen One – working more effectively than Boris Johnson to ensure money and support from All the Right People.
That man is of course Jeremy Hunt, and he currently holds the powerful post once occupied by the Blond Turk. For he is the foreign secretary…and in the best position to shine in relation to everything from UK trade deals beyond Brexit and the Brussels negotiating stance to the anti-Russian venom and privatisation fervour so beloved of the global American-led Military Industrial Complex.
Equally attractive is his solid track record as a man become very rich indeed by corrupt usage of his familial, media and Health connections among the British Mefirst élites. When it comes to A Safe Pair of Hands, there’s very little held in higher esteem by the world’s Bourses and the Washington Incrowd than a well-deserved reputation as a total and utter bastard.
There are four immediate and crucial things to realise about Our Jeremy as the Tory dysfunction threatens to get past the point of no return:
- The Murdoch press has dumped Boris, and is giving glowing coverage to Hunt. In the last eight days alone, The Times has led positively on him making a bid for Jpanese trade, defending Burmese Muslims, Google’s compliance with Chinese censorship, tough talking one-to-one with the Russian foreign minister, hard line statements about Iranian cynicism and complete acceptance of the May/EU/NATO nonsense about chemical weapon usage in Syria.
- Hunt has given high-profile statements, leaks and briefings to the British press warning Brussels that it should “not misinterpret British good manners as weakness”.
- His membership of the Tell Theresa the Truth Troika. In a piece yesterday about the withering mirage that was May’s Cabinet support, Murdoch’s Times presented Jeremy Hunt as the leader of that three-pronged fork aimed at the Prime Minister’s buttocks, identifying (correctly I think) the other two as Dominic Raab and Michael Gove. But The Thunderer was dismissive of Johnson’s position today, quoting Dominic Grieve’s assertion that his Plan B was “all rhetoric and devoid of substance”. As that is clearly untrue, we can see that Roop’s well-honed nose for wind direction had decided to get firmly behind Hunt….in exactly the same manner as he did with Trump in late 2017.
- Love or loathe the bloke (and regular readers will know where I stand on that one) Jeremy Hunt is perhaps the only runner in the Conservative leadership stakes who really can credibly claim that he has a history of toughness, sound management, influence, survival and healing qualities to get the Tories back into shape, and deliver a Brexit that will appeal to most Tory and enough Opposition MPs. It won’t have any validity for me and other genuine Brexit advocates – but that’s another issue.
I took David Lidington’s barely lukewarm support for Theresa May’s rigid Chequersism last night as the final, devastating sign that she is history. Cuddling up to the Prime Minister now is very close to indulging in necrophilia. She will probably limp through next week’s Conference…and then be savaged by a pride of lions soon thereafter.