As we wave goodbye to yet another prime minister utterly defeated by the question of Europe, we say hello to the next seven weeks of Conservative Party leadership drama, which, to say the very least, will be dominated by that same issue.
The last few years have been particularly difficult to watch as a young Conservative; seeing your party rip itself apart in an attempt to deliver the undeliverable is excruciating. The riddle of Brexit has been one which has consisted of impossible promises, and predictions beyond the bounds of possibility. Almost all the leadership contenders so far do not seem to be distancing themselves from this fairytale, and continue to make promises they can’t keep.
Leadership contests are supposed to be an environment in which new ideas are brought to the forefront of political debate – a place for aspiring candidates to propose policies which look to rejuvenate parties and, ultimately, the country. Yet, so far, all we have seen from most candidates are the same policies that we have been hearing about for the last three years, just simply dressed up in a different way.
There’s a simple reason for that, and a quick break down of the numbers provides a pretty clear explanation as to why.
Just over 300 Conservative MPs will whittle the contenders down to a short list of two. Of these contenders, the front runners – Johnson, Raab, Gove, and Hunt – offer nothing but regurgitations of the same proposals we have been hearing for months; this consists either of promises of renegotiation (which are frankly ludicrous), or talk of a no-deal Brexit at the end of October (which is nothing short of a disaster).
Once MPs have chosen the final two contenders, the task of picking our next prime minister – the person who will control the future of Brexit and, ultimately, the future of the United Kingdom – will fall to 160,000 Conservative Party members, such as myself. Whilst my views are very much in line with that of the rest of the country, I am not similar to most other members of my party.
The demographic of the majority of the Conservative Party can be described as predominantly white, male, from a more prosperous background, and older in age – with the average age of party membership estimated to be 57-years-old, if not even older.
At eighteen years old, I am one of the very few members dragging that average age down. But this isn’t good enough.
In this, I appeal to fellow party members to think not of Nigel Farage, or even themselves, when they vote for the next Prime Minister, but the future of the Conservative Party, the futures of the twelve million 18-25 year olds who didn’t vote for this, and the futures of the two million young people, like myself, who have reached their eighteenth birthday since the referendum in 2016, but haven’t been given a say on their futures.
Not only is there no majority in Parliament for any Brexit deal, but there is also most definitely no majority for the disastrous No Deal Brexit which is being promised by many leadership contenders - with many Conservative MPs seeing it for what it is: a disaster for the Conservative Party and a disaster for this country.
That leaves only a General Election - potentially triggered by Conservative MPs willing to pass a motion of no confidence in their own Prime Minister in order to countenance No Deal. No Conservative Prime Minister will, or should, even consider a General Election until they have at least decided upon a plan for Brexit.
This potential for the decimation of the Conservative Party is the reason that many are now increasingly turning to the pragmatic, democratic, patriotic solution: giving the people of this country the final say on Brexit.
As a party, we have always stood up for the national interest. We must not give in to the threats of Nigel Farage by forgetting our core values.
There are many valid reasons by some Conservatives have been reluctant to support a referendum, but now they must recognise that the people of this country want a voice. Not giving a final say through a referendum which directly deals with the issue, will only lead to a worsening of the divisions which have been mounting since 2016. People will continue to vote in accordance with their views on Europe - a referendum on the terms of Brexit is the only way to revive the Conservative Party and allow the country to move forward.
Whether you wish to leave the EU or remain in the EU, it is time to accept that a public vote is the only means by which this crisis can be solved.
Whilst some see such a vote to by a way to stop Brexit, many more Conservatives – namely Philip Hammond, George Osbourne, and Ed Vaizey – now see a referendum as a way of breaking the deadlock on the issue which has shackled this country for the last three years. In fact, MP Huw Merriman sees a referendum as the only way in which Brexit can democratically be delivered.
Whatever you think about – whether you want it or not – it is now time to stand up for the interests of both party and country, and put it back to the people.