In the event of train wreck Brexit, or something near to it, the economic costs of Brexit are likely, unfortunately, to hit back pockets. This would have far more powerful political consequences than any slogan. But Osborne has put forward one of the best slogans since 23 June.
“Brexit won a majority. Hard Brexit did not.”
This slogan, in itself, does not change reality – but it positions Osborne to benefit when reality changes. The steeper the costs of Brexit, the sharper the political price paid by Theresa May, and the more dramatically political reality will shift.
As Nigel Farage cedes notions of a Brexit betrayal, blaming immigrants and foreigners for the costs of the unravelling that he so vehemently pushed for, it is hard, sadly, to rule out British politics taking an even sharper turn to the right. As much as this would benefit UKIP, PM Farage remains implausible.
As much as President Trump was also not so long ago unthinkable, a perhaps more likely scenario is a PM Osborne. He will be untarnished by any Brexit costs experienced under May. His opposition to hard Brexit would allow him to personify a change of direction, a return to the management deemed competent enough only 18 months ago, to deliver the Conservatives their first majority in nearly a quarter of a century, and more smoothly and credibly reach compromise positions with EU partners.
Misjudged party management drove David Cameron to a referendum. Its loss sparked a revolution in his party, requiring that a quiet remainder, May, can only wear its crown as an ardent Brexiter. If the costs of Brexit are large enough, they may power a counter revolution, and resurrect Osborne.
This series of events would have dramatic consequences for the UK and the EU but to a significant extent, this revolution was about the internal dynamics of the Conservative Party. Any counter revolution would be too.
A natural party of government with somewhat bipolar tendencies. It is their country. We just live in it. Till we can offer a better party to govern it. It shouldn’t be that hard, should it?