Tories’ lead­er­ship race seems more like a scram­ble for the Ti­tanic’s wheel

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - OPINION -

IN past times the Bri­tish par­lia­ment was of­ten held up as a prime ex­am­ple of democ­racy, or­a­tory and po­lit­i­cal de­bate at it’s finest. That ship has long since sailed, and as the farce of Brexit rum­bles on, West­min­ster and the House of Com­mons now looks more like a week­end taxi rank af­ter the pubs have shut.

We’ve long been used to mock­ing the state of US po­lit­i­cal dis­course – and God knows our own is far from per­fect – but since the Brexit ref­er­en­dum Bri­tish politi­cians have plumbed new depths of id­iocy and buf­foon­ery.

The lat­est slap­stick episode in the black com­edy of Brexit has come with the in­evitable res­ig­na­tion of Theresa May and the bat­tle to re­place her at the helm of the Tory Ti­tanic.

Tory lead­er­ship bat­tles are usu­ally en­ter­tain­ing but the cur­rent bat­tle is one of most bizarre ever.

The fol­low­ing are just a few high­lights from the first day of the cam­paign.

Do­minic Raab – one of the UK’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tors who still backs a ‘No Deal’ EU exit – said Brexit had ‘hu­mil­i­ated’ Bri­tain. If elected he them promised to take “a buc­ca­neer­ing ap­proach” to trade. Back to the 18th cen­tury it is then.

Just over the road For­eign Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt was an­nounc­ing his plan to stamp out il­lit­er­acy, or as he called it, ‘il­lit­erashy’.

Mean­while, over on UTV, Es­ther McVey fell vic­tim to some se­ri­ous shade from pre­sen­ter Lor­raine Kelly who had very lit­tle to say when asked about her time work­ing on the same TV show as McVey in the 1990’s. If you have noth­ing nice to say don’t say any­thing at all, as the old say­ing goes. Twit­ter duly erupted.

While all that was funny enough, it paled in com­par­i­son to the rev­e­la­tions about var­i­ous can­di­dates’ pre­vi­ous drug use.

In the past, news that a politi­cian had taken drugs was usu­ally enough to sink a promis­ing ca­reer. Not any more, for we are all now liv­ing in a brave new world of bas­ket-case pol­i­tics.

By the time the first vote rolled around last Thurs­day, six of the 10 can­di­dates who be­gan the race had ad­mit­ted to tak­ing drugs.

Michael Gove caused the big­gest stir when he ad­mit­ted he’d used co­caine on sev­eral oc­ca­sions as a young jour­nal­ist.

Soon an old in­ter­view emerged in which front run­ner Boris John­son also ad­mit­ted try­ing co­caine, though in char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally bum­bling fash­ion he said he’d sneezed and it didn’t go up his nose. John­son also said he’d smoked cannabis which he found ‘jolly nice’.

An­other con­tender went one bet­ter. Out­sider can­di­date Rory Stew­art trumped Gove and John­son with the ad­mis­sion that he had smoked opium at a wed­ding party in Iran.

Amidst the drug war for Num­ber 10, Stew­art’s tale of opium smok­ing in the mid­dle east made An­drea Lead­som, Jeremy Hunt and Do­minic Raab – who all ad­mit­ted smok­ing cannabis – look pos­i­tively mun­dane.

It’s an ob­vi­ous joke but the im­pli­ca­tion that you now need to be on drugs to lead the Tory party says a lot about the state of Bri­tish pol­i­tics. That the most sen­si­ble com­ments on Brexit – out­lin­ing the cru­cial need to avoid a ‘no deal’ exit – have come from opium smoker Mr Stew­art, says even more.

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