It was a horrible, terrible, no good day in Britain yesterday. Tory leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a crushing defeat in parliament when 21 Tory members voted in favor of a resolution preventing a Brexit without a deal with the European Union. If no agreement with the EU is reached before the deadline of October 31, a majority in the House of Commons will demand yet another delay.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson went all in yesterday. He explained to parliament and, especially, to his own party members that he was not — ever — going to ask the EU for yet another delay. Either Britain will leave the EU by 31 October with a deal… or without it. In either case, Brexit will be a done deal, he said. And if Tory MPs disagree with him, he’ll kick them out.
Regardless of his tough stance and words, 21 Tory Remainers betrayed him and sided with the opposition, who are, of course, doing everything in their power to undermine the new prime minister. After they did, Johnson immediately told them they could no longer represent the Conservative Party in Parliament. He can’t force them to give up their seats, but he can kick them out of the party. That’s exactly what he did. One of those MPs is Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson.
As a result, however, Johnson not only lost the Brexit vote, but he also lost his majority in the House of Commons. Both Brexit and his government are now in serious jeopardy.
In order to prevent Remainers from successfully concluding their coup, Johnson has already said he’ll call new elections. However, in order to do so, he needs the support of (a part) of the Labour Party, the socialist opposition.
Johnson believes — and in my opinion rightfully so — that the Conservatives can win new elections if voters believe the party has truly become pro-Brexit. In other words, if Remainers are purged from it and Johnson has shown voters he means business. During the leadership campaign, he told party activists: “We need to realise the depth of the problems we face – unless we get on and do this thing, we will be punished for a very long time. There is a very real choice between getting Brexit done and the potential extinction of this great party.”
In other words, he is both principle-driven and driven by cold political calculations.
As Sky News points out, Johnson’s “recasting of the Conservatives carries a huge risk.” If elections are indeed held, he’ll need to a) make sure that a Brexit-supporting Conservative candidate wins in the region where previously a Conservative Remainer won, and b) “win perhaps up to 60 seats off Labour in Leave-voting heartlands to offset the losses in remain-supporting London and Scotland.”
Be that as it may, with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party waiting to pounce on the Tories, Johnson’s preferred course of action definitely is the right way to go. The Tories have to become the pro-Brexit party in voters’ eyes… and Johnson needs to make Brexit happen, with a deal or without it. If he does not, the Conservative Party will indeed be wiped out in new elections, possibly ensuring a massive Brexit Party victory. Once that happens, that party can then proceed to present itself as the only truly conservative party in Britain, thereby destroying the Tories once and for all.