Daily Express

Kelly’s Eye


SOME of us predicted even when Rishi Sunak became leader of the Conservati­ves that he wouldn’t be able to hide the split that makes the party currently ungovernab­le.

The latest barmy suggestion – that Boris Johnson is brought back to replace him, with Nigel Farage, fresh from I’m A Celebrity..., drafted in too to form a supposed dream ticket – rather proves the point.

Farage being wolf-whistled by his daytime TV body-shamer Lorraine Kelly is likelier than him consenting to try to prop up the Conservati­ve carcass this side of a general election, no matter how much he coyly hints at a possible future get-together.

Just as pertinentl­y, the admission to party ranks of a man they regard as such a ghastly provincial would never be countenanc­ed by the posh boy half of the Tories.

And while that wing of the party might be personifie­d by returning smoothie-chops Lord Cameron, it also includes Johnson, despite the latter’s greater cross-class appeal than his fellow Old Etonian.

No matter how little his admirers (who I realise include many readers) wish to acknowledg­e it, no sooner had Johnson secured his 2019 election triumph than he began committing to schemes most voters didn’t recall him advertisin­g, such as banning petrol cars by 2035 and doubling down on the monstrous £100 billion waste of the HS2 rail project.

Perhaps even more unpalatabl­y for his fans, he also turned out to be the country’s most liberal pro-immigratio­n PM ever.

Farage returns from Australia to find his Reform party regularly polling over ten per cent and rising. While it won’t win any seats come the election (for which progressiv­es can thank the first-past-the-post system they usually oppose), a significan­t shift to Reform will turn a Tory defeat into an annihilati­on.

They will be replaced by a Labour party for whom it is hard to detect any public enthusiasm, and indistingu­ishable on many issues. Name me one current policy of Keir Starmer’s that everyone is talking about.

Only in a period of chastened opposition can the Tories reset as a distinctiv­e centre-right party. If they don’t seize that opportunit­y, Farage might yet ultimately emerge as king of the jungle.

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