Electing to leave
For the former Ukip MP, the timing of the June vote couldn’t have been better
I’m sit ting In my office in t he House of commons. A large pile of constituency casework is staring at me – most of it letters and emails from folk wanting help on everything from potholes to local planning. Just before I get stuck in, I take a quick look at my twitter feed on my phone... And I’m completely stunned.
there she is. theresa may, standing outside number 10 calling a snap genera l elect ion on 8 Ju ne. none of us had the slightest inkling this was going to happen.
my first thought is, ‘I’d better get on and finish this constituency casework quick ly.’ But my s econd i s, ‘ tha nk goodness I quit Ukip when I did. I got out just in time.’ L At er t H At day I he ad to t he commons tea room for a late lunch. there’s an uneasy atmosphere. down the Labour end of the room, the pained expressions suggest that the comrades are in a state of shock. there are one or two tories, those who got in two years ago a nd were probably ex pect ing a quiet summer, looking a little bewil- de red. Weirdly, I find myself feeling for them all – fighting an election campaign is a tough, bruising business.
I munch my sandwich sitting between the two tribes nursing a guilty secret : I’ve decided t hat I won’t be standing again. theresa may’s decision to call an early elect ion brought forward an announcement I was planning to make in April 2019– the date we leave the eu. Job done. It’s saturday Afternoon, I’m in a room full of eight-year-olds helping at my daughter’s birthday party. she and her friends charge around following the instruction of an entertainer, while I find myself co-opted as a sort of understudy, when I’m not carving up bits of birthday cake.
tails are pinned on donkeys. Parcels are passed. games that involve lots of racing about and squealing are played. It’s refreshing that while society has changed in so many other ways, the ingredients of a successful children’s party have hardly changed since I was tearing around doing exactly the same at that age. Having filled the children with sugar-based foods of various kinds, we hand them back to their parents at the end of the afternoon. the laughter and fun have left me in a state of happy exhaustion. Party over (and having caught up on some sleep ), I get to work on my vegetable patch. I’m trying to plant out several dozen seedlings( including broad beans and peas ), which have been covering almost every surface in my study, before my mp advice surgery starts in clacton.
I’ve had a soft spot for Jeremy corbyn ever since I discovered that he has an allotment. In an age of instant everything, gardening takes patience. It’s all about delayed gratification.
there’s something so civilised – or civilising – about it. or maybe it’s just that gardening is what you do when you reach middle age...
then again, I once found an ancient Palaeolithic flint, made by a band of early essex folk before there was even an essex, while gardening. It certainly puts things – not least party politics – into perspective.
Rebel: How to Overthrow the Emerging Oligarchy, by Douglas Carswell, is published by Head of Zeus (£18.99)
I’ve had a soft spot for Jeremy Corbyn ever since I discovered that he has an allotment