Tories at war: IAIN DUNCAN SMITH says his party must deliver Brexit not compromises – but SIR NICHOLAS SOAMES insists extreme reactions are madness not leadership, as big beasts lock horns over the way forward
In the wake of a humbling election result for the Conservatives, who finished fifth in the European Parliament poll, former leader IAIN DUNCAN SMITH and fellow Tory MP SIR NICHOLAS SOAMES have very different ideas for the party’s future.
Calling for the new party leader to ‘put aside anger and division’, Sir Nicholas argues that ‘to talk of coming together is not weak’.
But Mr Duncan Smith blames a ‘political establishment wedded to compromise’ for leaving the Tories in their current mess.
Here, they lay out their demands for Theresa May‘s successor.
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH
As one Tory colleague said, we stood on the beach watching the tsunami approach and simply let it hit us.
The result was as close to electoral wipe-out for Tories as I can remember in 27 years as an MP.
It was our failure to deliver Brexit on March 29 that led directly to the setting up of the Brexit Party and within it the seeds of our destruction.
Amid the wreckage of this political tsunami, some voices can be heard saying we need to keep to the middle ground and not over-react. They argue that it’s possible to construct a compromise that will see us through and even that we should re-visit Theresa May’s Withdrawal Bill.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) blames a ‘political establishment wedded to compromise’ for leaving the Tories in their current mess
But this is madness.
The way back is for the Tories to delivers Brexit – unlike Nigel Farage’s party, which just has the Brexit name but is powerless to actually deliver it.
We need a clear strategy to honour the will of the people who voted to leave the EU.
People who advocate taking the middle road should remember the words of the great Tory thinker Keith Joseph: It is the common ground we seek, not the middle ground.
The common ground for Tories is inhabited by those who recognise, whether they voted Remain or Leave, that the referendum result must be honoured.
Faced by a national crisis, we need a leader with the power and vision to seize the initiative.
In 1940, Winston Churchill, was urged by the political Establishment to seek the easy way out and sue for peace with Hitler. It appeared the easiest option. Yet he defied the voices of compromise and captured the common ground, leading us to victory.
In 1979, too, Margaret Thatcher defied the political Establishment and placed her stake in the common ground to take on the unions and reinvigorate Britain’s economy.
The Conservative Party hasn’t been the most world’s most successful party in the democratic world by accident. It is because it has had the innate ability to align itself with the needs and wishes of the British people – to find that common ground.
For too long, we have sought compromise as an objective in itself. This has led to our current terrible mess. The time has come for an end to policies of damage limitation. The next leader must respond to this electoral kicking by making our policy on Brexit crystal clear by giving a concrete promise that Britain will leave the EU by October 31 – deal or No Deal.
The lessons of history tell us a great future for this nation will be founded on the strength and determination of the British people who actually believe in their country. It will never be secured by a political Establishment wedded to compromise and sitting idly in the middle of the road.
SIR NICHOLAS SOAMES
These are times of great peril for our country and for my party.
They are also painful ones for those of us who believe in the politics of harmony, of caring for and respecting all our people, and of trying to bring them together and not to divide them.
My family have a long story of service to our country. My grandfather, Winston Churchill, led the Government through Britain’s darkest hours – seeing that in a time of crisis the only route to success is for the nation to be told the truth and meet a great challenge together.
We need leadership to put aside anger and division and pull together. We must find a credible route through Brexit to build a better country and go forward together.
Inside the Conservative Party, which I have served as an MP for 35 years, some make a different case, that the answer is to stoke rage by promising an ever-more extreme and irrational response. This is madness, not leadership. It is a route to defeat and national humiliation.
Conservative MP Nicholas Soames (pictured) argues that ‘to talk of coming together is not weak’
To talk of coming together is not weak. To engage all sides of Parliament in a common national cause is not unpatriotic. To work for the good of our country is not a shallow thing. It is the essential element that makes our country exceptional.
It means choosing a leader who offers more than the short-lived sugar-rush of empty thoughts and ill-informed and, in some cases, dishonest slogans.
Some say we can leave the EU without a deal. But this would be the greatest insult to the wisdom and understanding of the British people. They don’t want a leader who offers to ruin our country. They want one to lead it.
Easy lies and false simplicities got us into this mess. They will emphatically not get us out of it.
We need someone with backbone and experience beyond politics and journalism – the Westminster bubble in which Nigel Farage is most at home. We need to beat him, the Liberal Democrats and Jeremy Corbyn’s Marxist wreck of a Labour Party by being better than them. Not by being afraid or deluding people.
In my years in public life (as a Privy Counsellor and officer in the British Army) and learning from my father and grandfather, I hope I have acquired a sense of the real tests of leadership.
Of those who have put their name forward, I can see only one person who can sort out Brexit, unite our party and restore pride and hope to Britain.
That person is Rory Stewart. I am honoured to support him.