Bernard Ingham: Opportunity beckons after Brexit for a Tory party that’s united

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JUST imagine, if you can, that wonderful day when Brexit is Brexit and we face the world as an independent, sovereign nation again, proud to be British.

Don’t think that looking on the 
bright side has driven me mad. It will happen and we shall be happy ever 
after – always assuming that our daft politicians can agree on anything any more.

This is the year’s really serious question: whither British politics? You might also ask just as seriously “Whither the EU?” because the only beneficiary of the continent-splitting federalism of Brussels is Vladimir Putin, gloating in the Kremlin.

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Optimistic fellow that I am, I cannot see this drive to sink 27 nation states in a United States of Europe lasting much longer. And I am encouraged in my view that the chief protagonist is Emmanuel Macron, the unpopular French president.

Britain has seen sense long before the 27 who are more dependent on Franco-German favours. As such we are a beacon for 25 of the 27 to follow.

But – and however optimistic I am – we really must ask ourselves whether this country’s politicians can sort themselves out and how.

While the past two years have been bruising, I regard all this talk of a snap election or a new centre party united only by its adoration of the EU as for the birds.

Certainly Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has done nothing to encourage the Tories to come together. They think that his unrepentant Marxism and inexplicable support of the disastrous socialist experiment in Venezuela, plus the revelation by Brexit that he is without principle, allows them to indulge themselves.

But Corbyn can still rely on the support of the Scottish Nationalists, the Greens and Sinn Fein – further evidence of the parlous state of British politics. He still poses a threat – and a dire threat – to the wellbeing of this country.

That should be enough to bring the warring Tory tribes together once we have broken with the EU. What else would be left to fight over when we are free to run our own affairs? Surely, 
they will recognise that in so many ways the national interest – and all our pressing social problems – demand responsibility.

After 11 years in No 10, and 24 years in the Civil Service, I do not count on Tory loyalty or a stiff upper lip in the face of difficulties. In their panic, they are much more brutal with their leaders than an indulgent Labour Party if they think they are going to lose an election.

Theresa May has hinted that she will not fight the next election – and I regard her as infinitely more honourable than Speaker John Bercow – so the only question is timing. But she must see Brexit through and start the renovation of Britain before she makes way for another leader.

Rationally, Corbyn, his nationalist supporters and the need to redeem politics in the eyes of the public should be incentive enough for the Tories to demonstrate they are the nation’s only sensible option.

Will those twirling around near the top of the greasy pole start behaving as if they want to govern instead of stab each other? Well, funnier things have happened.

But they need to decide what they stand for. This has been clouded by Mrs May’s social concern as expressed by her phrase “working for the many, not the few”.

I do not believe the Tories deserve to be re-elected if they just shrug their shoulders at the excesses of bloated capitalists who are seemingly without shame. Capitalism may make the world go round, but it has to be controlled. They call it freedom under the law.

There is nothing incompatible between exercising that control and a platform of political and economic freedom, sound money, the promotion of enterprise, small government and low taxes. That platform has consistently improved the people’s lot. It is the unanswerable – and unchallengeable – alternative to Corbynism.

In short, the Tories hold all the cards provided they can stop fighting each other. When Brexit is Brexit, we are not going to re-enter the failing Euro-mess in a hurry.

The challenge to the Tories is to come to their senses, recognise their responsibilities, unite under the freedom flag and bring purpose and ambition to Britain.

All they need by 2021 at the latest is a more charismatic leader who can show there is more to unite the party than divide it and bring inspiration to our governance.

Opportunity beckons. Who will justify my optimism about the future?