Dominic Cummings has set the cat among the pigeons this afternoon by leaking a Parliamentary report into fake news ahead of its official publication on Sunday. The Vote Leave official alleges that the report ‘knowingly/incompetently makes false claims’ on supposed misuses of data during the referendum campaign. Expect further reaction to this over the weekend.
However, the part of the blog that has got people talking in Westminster most avidly today relates to his comments on calls for a second referendum. Following increased chatter in recent weeks from Remain-ers over the need for a second vote on Brexit – whether on the terms of the final deal or leaving the EU full stop – Cummings has warned these campaigns to be careful what they wish for. He says that if there is a second referendum, not only will Vote Leave (reincarnated) win it by a higher margin than the last referendum, they will also consider forming a new political party and then taking power so that they can actually ‘implement the promises we made in the referendum’ this time around:
‘If your side gets its way and there is another referendum, Vote Leave 2 will be much much worse for your side than VL1 was. VL2 will win by more than VL1 and the logical corollary will be to morph into a new party and fight the next election ‘to implement the promises we made in the referendum because the MPs have proved they can’t be trusted’.’
Talk of a new Brexit betrayal party has grown in recent weeks following Theresa May’s Chequers proposal. That proposal has tanked with Tory members and many Brexit voters. It follows that more voters have looked to Ukip as a true Brexit alternative. What gives the Tories some reassurance in all this is that Ukip remains a chaotic disorganised party. Were there to be a rival Brexit party which had momentum behind it, they would be much more worried about diluting Brexit.
It follows that Cummings’ warning that a second referendum could result in a heightened Vote Leave effort – and one that wouldn’t be content closing up after the referendum – will ring alarm bells in No 10:
‘If you guys want to run with Adonis and create another wave, be careful what you wish for. ‘Unda fert nec regitur’ and VL2 will ride that wave right at — and through — the gates of Parliament.’
As things stand, the Conservatives are the party of Brexit – their voter base is predominantly made up of Leave voters. Were these voters to decide their interests were better served elsewhere, it could spell disaster for the Tory party as is.