Matthew Parris (2 February) attacks those who warn that failing to leave the EU would cause civil unrest: ‘…there is something deeply unConservative about this tack. A proper Conservative does not pray in aid of his argument by citing criminal elements that may otherwise be unleashed.’ Broadly, that sounds right, although frustrating a major democratic mandate is always a serious provocation.
So what does Matthew think of the following? ‘I will tell you what I think playing with fire is: blundering into the politics of Northern Ireland with a policy which is sometimes clueless and sometimes delinquent with a can of petrol in one hand and a box of matches in the other. That is playing with fire. That is what we are in danger of doing.’ That was Lord Patten in the Lords debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2018. He was attacking Brexiteers for the civil unrest (and worse) he thought Brexit would cause in Northern Ireland. Chris Patten is Matthew’s very model of a true Conservative.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator notes, available in this week’s magazine.