Where will these nice Independent Groupies end up? If the SDP example applies, they will wander through the political wilderness, some of them coming to rest in existing parties. All the following were in the SDP. Greg Clark is a Tory cabinet minister. Danny Finkelstein is a Tory peer, excellent journalist and wordsmith to David Cameron. Andrew Cooper, the political strategist, is the Conservative Baron Cooper of Windrush. Adair Turner is a crossbencher peer with a quiverful of business and pro-bono positions. Sir Vince Cable is the leader of the Liberal Democrats.
They are all likeable, friendly, able and successful men. Yet all of them have a ‘non-tribal’, EU-centred approach which ultimately makes them honourably ineligible for the struggle of British politics. I suspect the same will go for the ‘Magnificent Seven’ (plus two), as they flee Jeremy Corbyn but fail to find the promised land. As for the three defecting Tories, perhaps they will just go round in a circle.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, available in this week’s magazine.