Wednesday 17 July 2019

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


Editorial Comment

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.

Enniscorthy Guardian