Despite her gaffe, Penny Mordaunt, not Cameron, is the future of the Tory party

by Kevin Meagher

It’s pretty clear from her interview with Andrew Marr yesterday morning that defence minister Penny Mordaunt didn’t actually understand that individual Member States can veto the accession of new applicants to the EU, like Turkey.

A tad embarrassing, perhaps, for a government minister and David Cameron wasted no time in correcting her:

‘Let me be clear. Britain and every other country in the European Union has a veto on another country joining. That is a fact. The fact that the Leave campaign are getting things as straightforward as this wrong, I think should call into question their whole judgement in making the bigger argument about leaving the EU.’

As a vignette, it tells us that fact-checking left the building some time ago as far as this referendum is concerned and that tempers inside the Conservative party are shredded.

However it is pro-European Tories like Cameron and Osborne that will pay a heavy price for the tone of this referendum. Having failed to get anything resembling the deal he promised, the Prime Minister is now despairing at the failure of the polls to decisively shift for Remain.

Famed for his fits of pique, his answer is to let slip the dogs of war. So threats of recession, war, plague and famine are trotted out daily by a loyal army of straight-faced supplicants, like Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England and any number of corporate factotums, keen to sidle up to Downing Street for future preferment.

Unfortunately for him, the party’s grassroots remains implacably hostile to the EU. All those years when ambitious Tories could sidle up to their local members, pat them on the head and throw out a few Euro-bashing lines, safe in the knowledge that it all meant nothing, are over. With boundary changes approaching, local associations will demand to know their prospective MPs voted the ‘right’ way on the referendum.

Perhaps it’s understandable that David Cameron is furious with Mordaunt: she’s the future of the Conservative party, not him.

Some say she may lose her job for defying Cameron and emerging as one of the government’s staunchest Eurosceptics, but Cameron and Osborne will need to sue for peace and won’t have the strength to sack her.

If they do, she goes to the gallows as a heroine to the cause. But as we’ve seen with the Labour party, it is no bad thing to play the long game and emerge as a darling of the grassroots.

After all, as Talleyrand was said to have quipped, ‘treason is a matter of dates.’

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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12 Responses to “Despite her gaffe, Penny Mordaunt, not Cameron, is the future of the Tory party”

  1. Tafia says:

    didn’t actually understand that individual Member States can veto the accession of new applicants to the EU, like Turkey.

    That is an utterly irrelevant statement. It’s not whether they can – it’s whether they will.

    Germany wants Turkey in as fast as it can get it in. They have a long history together. To stop Turkey means standing up to the Germans and sticking two fingers up to them and very publicly. and then living with a vengeful Germany afterwards.

    There isn’t a single country in the EU – including us, with a strong track record of opposing Germany. Quite the contrary.

  2. james says:

    I see her as the next female PM. This is a sort of gaffe from which she’ll learn.

    In retrospect she should have said `technically that’s true – though of course you might like to ask David Cameron why we’ve spent 2bn already as a country for that to happen if it’s so unlikely. If the EU wants Turkey to join it’ll bend every agreement for that to happen. Then there will be free movement of labour that suppresses wages – and we’d already paid for it.

  3. Hi Kevin,

    Not sure I entirely agree.

    In terms of winning the referendum, I agree with Atul. It’s not pretty, but I think project fear is pretty effective, though “plague and famine” might be overegging it a little.

    Recent polls are showing movement to Remain. I hate to predict that they will continue in that direction, in case I jinx them, but I think that’s likely.

    However, I do agree with you about the post-referendum future. Cameron may get his Remain victory, but the future belongs to a Brexit dominated Tory party.

    Considering the travesty that is the Labour opposition, that could mean a Brexit-flavoured Tory government for maybe 20 years. And a government wondering how soon they’ll be able to get away with a second referendum, when they’ll do all they can to achieve the opposite result.

    That should deeply worry us all.

  4. Tafia says:

    I see her as the next female PM. This is a sort of gaffe from which she’ll learn.

    That would make two tory female PMs to Labour’s none.

  5. Mike Stallard says:

    What a silly woman! Briefed by Vote Leave and Mr Cummings, she simply got her facts wrong.
    To get a decent perspective, go to the enemy – Conservative Home – and listen to Chris Grayling who left the Cabinet’s safety to make this excellent speech.

  6. John says:

    Good entitle,well said Tafia

  7. Mr Akira Origami says:

    Europe for Europeans.

    Turkey is a Muslim country and should head a movement for a Middle East Union.

    Erdogan can be the Middle East’s Jean Monnet posterboy..

  8. paul barker says:

    I am a Libdem but I have to ask what this article is doing on a Labour site; it reads like a UKIP press release.
    O f course the Tories are tearing themselves apart on this, its debatable how long this Government can last. Thats about the only fact Meagher gets right, in fact the Polls have clearly shifted towards Remain over the last few weeks.

  9. Tafia says:

    Mr Akira Origami says: Europe for Europeans.

    You’re going to say you didn’t know that the EU’s longterm aim is to morph into a bloc including the Mediterranean states such as Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Morrocco – a ‘European and Mediterranean Area Economic Union’.

    You should know – it’s not a secret.

  10. Anon E Mouse says:

    Never had a lot of time for the author of this piece but unlike the majority of Labour Party members (of which I myself am one) he seems to get it now.

    Labour needs to start representing the working class again or stay out of power for decades. The London elite most vividly represented by Lady Nugee are not where Labour should be.

  11. Mr Akira Origami says:

    @ Tafia

    Forgive my ignorance, I didn’t know this!

    Then probably Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia would follow!

    Jean-Claude will make the EU a veritable colossus.

    Alexander will pale into insignificance compared with Junker the Great.

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