YP Comment: A question of leadership

Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May are the frontrunners for the Tory leadership. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May are the frontrunners for the Tory leadership. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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Parties search for new direction.

FAR from giving rise to a new-found confidence about Britain’s future, the days that have followed the historic vote in favour of Brexit seem to be producing a tangible air of apprehension.

The reason for this is the prevailing uncertainty that has filled the void since the country decided to break away from the European Union, with both main parties now in the midst of leadership battles.

The lack of clear contingency planning in the event of an ‘Out’ vote has also been a contributory factor, for which David Cameron must shoulder much of the blame.

For the Conservatives, it would already appear to be a straight race between Boris Johnson and Theresa May for the post he is vacating. A Leaver pitted against a Remainer, on paper it would appear a straightforward win for Mr Johnson given the verdict delivered by the public.

However, Mrs May’s six years as Home Secretary mean she has considerable experience at the sharp end of government. Her calculated decision to remain relatively restrained in her campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU is also in her favour.

Mrs May is untainted by the unseemly scheming that coloured so much of the referendum campaigning, while her calls for restrictions on free movement within Europe even before the vote may convince Brexiteers within the party that she has the wherewithal to unite their ranks in a manner which Mr Johnson would not manage.

The fact that Mr Johnson’s allies were already complaining about a secret ‘stop Boris’ campaign even before nominations were opened today suggests they are concerned by the threat that the Home Secretary poses to his leadership hopes.

In a different climate, the present situation with the Tory party might appear somewhat chaotic. Yet it is as nothing compared to the unholy mess in which the Labour party finds itself.

Yesterday’s motion of no confidence in leader Jeremy Corbyn was passed by a margin of 172 votes to 40 in the wake of a flurry of resignations from his senior team. Mr Corbyn’s position would appear to be untenable, yet he is refusing to go of his own volition, claiming he still has the backing of those members outside the parliamentary party.

Surely, however, Labour MPs only have themselves to blame. It was they who paved the way for this impasse by granting Mr Corbyn the nominations he needed to run for the leadership, not thinking for one moment he might actually win it.

Bridlington-born Angela Eagle is being mooted as a potential successor, but there are other talented Labour MPs in this region who offer an alternative to the party’s present London-centric outlook. It is time for a few of them to raise their heads above the parapet.

England’s dreaming

Footballers humbled by Iceland

PERHAPS the most damning facet of the England football team’s latest hapless attempt to secure silverware to add to a World Cup won so long ago it is beginning to enter the realms of mythology is the fact that defeat to the minnows of Iceland was not entirely unexpected.

Supporters who had seen Roy Hodgson’s players fail to beat a poor Russia side, sneak past the plucky but limited Welsh and then draw a blank against the might of Slovakia feared the team’s stay in France would prove short-lived.

That the knock-out blow was delivered by a country with a population equivalent to that of the East Riding rather than the host nation, whom Iceland will now face in the quarter finals, merely served to underline just how low the Three Lions’ stock has fallen.

Not since 1950, when genuine greats of the domestic game including Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney and Billy Wright were humbled by the part-timers of the USA have England been humiliated in so mortifying a fashion.

Yet this was no more than a confused and rudderless campaign deserved. Germany have not secured four World Cups and three European Championship titles by arriving at tournaments unsure of their best team or most effective formation.

Ineptitude from a coaching point of view is only part of the problem, however. The Premier League’s reliance on imported talent and the associated failure of the country’s top clubs to nurture and develop homegrown stars of the future must be seen as the biggest contributory factor in this seemingly endless cycle of non-achievement.

In post-Brexit Britain, it would be some comfort to think the league might now explore the possibility of placing limits on the number of foreigners playing within it.

The chances of them taking such a step for fear of threatening the cash cow that is the Premier League? Somewhere in the region of England faring any better at the World Cup in Russia in two years’ time. If they get there, that is.