With May’s departure, the below sets out how I hope that events will unfold for the nation, and for the Conservative Party, over the next few months.
1. After a robust but civil contest, a Tory leader is appointed who is both genuinely committed to Brexit and who is willing to forthrightly champion conservative values, rather than speaking the language of the left(1).
2. New PM asks the EU to alter the Withdrawal Agreement to fully remove the backstop and any role for the ECJ.
2a. The EU accepts (highly unlikely) and we leave under that deal.
3. The EU refuses. The new PM announces that as Brussels will not compromise to deliver an acceptable deal for the UK, we have no option but to leave with No Deal.
3a. Parliament accepts this and we leave with No Deal by or before 31 October.
4. Parliament overrules the PM and blocks a No Deal Brexit, insisting on further delay.
5. The PM announces that Parliament is thwarting the will of the people and is fundamentally unrepresentative of the views expressed in the Brexit referendum. Accordingly there is no choice but to dissolve Parliament and call a General Election.
6. PM campaigns explicitly on a No Deal platform, presenting themselves and the party in opposition to the political establishment. Platform also champions core conservative value combined with strong support for core public services, with a clear retail offer funded by scrapping progressive holy cows, such as the foreign aid budget and uncapped university places, to invest the money in the schools, hospitals and police used by ordinary working people.
7. PM wins a majority with 35-40% as Brexit party made irrelevant and Labour vote diminished by Remain voter defections to Lib Dems and Greens.
8. No Deal Brexit and five years of responsible Conservative government delivered by end 2019.
None of this is certain. There are risks, notably around the general election. But it appears the best, plausible, way of achieving a positive outcome for our nation.
(1) No, I haven’t yet decided who I’m supporting. I want to listen to their pitches first. There are several potentially good candidates out there, but if we learned one thing from May it’s that how a candidate sets out and communicates their vision to the public is absolutely critical.