Brexit has dominated the British political landscape since the controversial referendum in 2016 — and that’s understandable. The future relationship with the European Union will impact almost every facet of British life, but it threatens to turn the main political parties into single-issue parties. Perhaps this is most true of the Conservative Party, who made “Get Brexit Done” the slogan of their recent party conference.
The question is, where do they go after Brexit?
The ruling Conservatives — in charge without a majority in Parliament — have taken a further shift to the right under the leadership of Boris Johnson, whose main advisor is Dominic Cummings, the man credited with masterminding the shock Leave victory in 2016, and who has stuffed his cabinet with Leavers — many of whom favour a “hard” Brexit and leaving without a deal.
Though Johnson claims he wants a deal with the EU, some believe his actual plan is to present them with a deal he knows they will reject, forcing the country into an unavoidable “no deal” scenario.
Why is he pushing so hard to, as he says, leave on October 31st “do or die”?
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is the reason.
The Tories’ strategy is to ape the Brexit Party’s “hard Brexit” rhetoric hoping to steal away any would-be supporters in a forthcoming general election. In the short term it makes sense, but what of the long term? What happens to the Brexit Party in all but name after Brexit? If it goes badly — as expected — will the party who made it the central plank of everything be elected ever again?
There are some signs they are looking to the future, with Boris Johnson and his cohorts making public spending promises when in front of a microphone or television camera, but it’s unclear when exactly they plan to spend this money. Besides, no matter what they may say about new hospitals or police officers, it is Brexit that will define this government and this party. Not only that, but they are asking to be defined by it.
Get this wrong, and we may not see a Conservative inside 10 Downing Street for a very long time.
David is an author and freelance writer. He has two short story collections available, and his non-fiction work has appeared on The Mighty, WhatCulture and Just Football, among others.