Well I might as well say publicly what I’ve been saying to everyone who will listen privately for the last week. It seems to me that our country will regret the distraction and levity we have shown this past week. For those who campaigned to leave the EU, June 24th was not an opportunity to take a break but the start of the real work. Of course it remains astonishing that having lost the vote the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer chose to go into hiding and abandon the country they were in place to serve. But it is also unforgiveable that having won the campaign those who campaigned to leave have not dedicated themselves solely to putting the country right.
Without treading on the private grief of the Labour party, what is the excuse for the Conservative party dragging out its process of appointing a leader and prioritising this over the wellbeing of the country? What are they doing? Why is Stephen Crabb running for leader? Why is Andrea Leadsom? Both may have qualities, but neither has anything like the experience or knowledge needed to become Prime Minister this year.
As a result the last week has been wholly and horribly wasted. Last week should have seen the UK sending trade delegations around the world. On Monday of last week a team of our best negotiators should have flown to India and any number of other countries to bash out trade details. They may not have been the best trade deals in the world, but they would have shown that Britain was open to the world for business. Imagine the lift to the national mood if in September it could be announced that the UK had arranged a set of trade deals that the EU has failed to arrange all these years. Instead, the most the country is being told that we may be able to look forward to is the announcement of Theresa May as Prime Minister after the summer. Again – Theresa may have many fine qualities, but this has been a very long and costly way to anoint her Prime Minister.
Some Remainers are of course happy with this state of affairs as well as the absence of decisions it entails. In our embassies abroad we will still have ambassadors who will be talking down the decision of the British people and explaining the case for the EU to allies who no longer need to hear that case. It will suit some Remainers very well to have such people remain in place while the Conservative party sorts out its internal strife. But none of this serves the country well. My own preference is simply that this country gets moving fast. I see too little awareness of that fact anywhere in Westminster. But for the country’s sake our warring politicians better wake up to this fact soon.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.