Whether the British people vote for Remain or Brexit, the Conservative party will change dramatically after the referendum.
At present, the Conservative party is split down the middle. Quite literally. About half the parliamentary party supports Brexit under Boris Johnson, leaving the other half supporting Remain under David Cameron.
Seemingly vicious attacks have sprung from both sides. High-profile Brexiteer and former Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith called his leader “disingenuous”. He continued his onslaught on the Cameron camp, comparing George Osborne to the fairy tale puppet Pinocchio:
Pinocchio…with his nose just getting longer and longer and longer…is very similar to the Chancellor.
From the Remain faction, Cameron has accused both Johnson and Justice Secretary Michael Gove of peddling “untruths” to “con” the British public into voting to leave.
But there is much more that unites the Conservative party than divides it – primarily the protection of wealth and power, and the maintenance of the status quo. As former British ambassador Craig Murray writes:
The purpose of the Conservative Party is simply to be in power. The object of power for them is to make sure that nobody else can use the power of the state to counteract the power of the wealthy and curb their excesses.
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Preserving the establishment and furthering moneyed interests will again become the top priority as soon as the referendum is over. The Conservative party will close ranks and the blue vehicle will emerge looking more polished than ever, as if nothing even happened.
In the run up to this year’s London mayoral elections, Cameron engaged in a divisive smear campaign, accusing Sadiq Khan of sharing a platform with Islamic extremists in an attempt to game anti-Muslim sentiment for political gain. The campaign was so shocking that top Conservatives themselves condemned it.
However, as soon as the battle for London was over, Cameron was smiling away alongside the new mayor. He stated he was proud to campaign for Remain with Khan, and sang his praises:
But he makes an important point about our country. In one generation someone who’s a proud Muslim, a proud Brit and a proud Londoner can become mayor of the greatest city on Earth. That says something about our country.
Bare in mind, this dramatic change of tone concerns a prominent figure in the Labour party – an enemy of Cameron. Whereas, the EU referendum campaign divide is between politicians in the same party. If Cameron can switch so suddenly over Labour, he certainly can for his own.
Cameron’s skinny majority means it takes only a handful of rebel MPs to stop policies making it through parliament. During the referendum battle, Eurosceptic rebels teamed up with Jeremy Corbyn to protect the NHS from the ‘free-trade’ deal TTIP. But afterwards, bitter backbencher Brexiteers will have less to gain from undermining the leadership. They will likely be more focused on external threats, and worried about the appearance of the party. As Murray writes:
The unexpected prominence of the SNP, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and numerous movements throughout Europe are merely reflections of a popular mood of discontent with the increasingly remote and increasingly wealthy elite. UKIP is in its way a reflection of the same thing, with the discontent cleverly misdirected at foreigners.
These are, from a Tory point of view, not calm times.
Significantly, Conservative politicians live and breathe rhetoric and fearmongering. That’s literally their job. All of the comments made against each other will be seen as fair game after the referendum. Regaining unity to stay in power will take precedence.
To summarise, there are two core reasons the Conservatives will close ranks immediately after the referendum, whatever the result:
- A divided party looks weak, and the Conservatives are all about appearing strong.
- There is much more that unites than divides the Conservative party. Money and maintaining power will take the front seat again.
Straight after the EU vote, the Conservative party will emerge looking pristine and ready to cling onto power for the next general election. Those fighting for a better future must be ready. The referendum may feel like the end of a battle, but really it is only the beginning.
- You have until 10pm to vote in the EU referendum.
Featured Image via Screengrab.
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