Nigel Smythe, MP for Littlehampton, is the first to put the Conservative dilemma bluntly: ‘For one half of us, it’s Brexit. For the other half, it’s welfare’ he told a constituency meeting. ‘But unless the party decides exactly what to tear itself apart about, then we are doomed.’
Mr Smythe admitted to constituents he was ‘still in two minds’ about what the Conservative Party should, ultimately, fall badly out with itself about. ‘We have a proud history of not agreeing what we should disagree about. But now, half the party wants divisions over Europe to be the cause of the row. While the other half think the party should divide calamitously along lines related to this other issue, about whether disabled people should be very poor indeed, or just very poor. And soon the party will be yet further divided by whether they want to vote Boris or George. That’s three issues to split over.
Mr Smythe continued: ‘Once we had one nation Conservatism. Now we seem to have Six Nation Conservatism. It’s like the rugby, only more aggressive. And England is less likely to win. Which is why I am very soon going to decide exactly what I think the issues are that we Conservatives should disastrously split over, and once I do, I will be happy to enter the fray. But at the moment, frankly, I’m torn. Which is why I am listening to constituents. Who themselves are divided over what the issues should be.’
David Cameron is still deciding whether to pour oil on these troubled waters, or douse the fire with a well-aimed bucket of water. His Cabinet is, say insiders, also split over the oil/water metaphor issue. But in a speech yesterday, Mr Cameron tried to reassure Tories with a unifying vision, saying:
‘Basically, Tories are rich cunts who want to find ways of staying rich cunts. Or they’re Daily Mail readers who aren’t rich cunts, but think they could one day become rich cunts. They think they can do this by believing what the rich cunts who own the Daily Mail tell them. Which means, thank goodness, that we Conservatives are all in this together. If once in a while we savage each other brutally about exactly what kind of cunts we are, that’s just natural competitiveness.’