Yesterday we were treated to Loughborough’s Tory MP Nicky Morgan joining Nick Clegg and David Miliband at the Tilda Rice factory in Essex to say… well what exactly? The truth is that that in our country we have a party system. Politicians stand on a party manifesto, get elected, and then what happens is largely shaped by that manifesto, and the cabinet working in concert with the whips and the parliamentary party.
On the Conservative side, these basic facts are becomingly increasingly strained. The recent furore around a made-up customs partnership versus the soundbite “maximum facilitation” is just the latest symptom of a party comprised of people who cannot even reconcile their own personal ideological approach with the substantive measures they are calling for.
So, this begs the question of where did Mrs Morgan’s intervention at the Tilda Rice plant get us and the voter in trying to discern an alternative approach to Brexit and how that may be achieved?
Mrs Morgan has been as unclear as she has been inconsistent on what type of soft-Brexit she would like. Much less, on how she, a Conservative, will advance the country’s position.
In March of this year Nicky Morgan took to the BBC to say “mutual recognition of regulations is the way to go” in endorsing the substance of the Prime Minister’s Mansion House Brexit speech. This is a very far cry from membership of the European Economic Area or achieving any benefit of the single market: “mutual recognition” of regulations is very different to the “mutual adoption” of regulations that would be required to properly enjoy single market benefits.
Perhaps it is this lack of clarity that has undermined her efforts to shape Tory policy on Brexit. Or perhaps it is the fact that her approach offers a very fuzzy alternative to the two well-established camps in cabinet. And with the hard Brexiteers in the ascendancy it has been, and will remain, a case of vote for a Tory MP, get hard Tory Brexit.