The contest to become the next leader of the Conservative Party is seeing a procession of candidates promising yet more unicorn solutions to the Brexit crisis that simply cannot be achieved.
Today, Rory Stewart, Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab appeared on various Sunday shows with fantastical proposals that are clearly undeliverable as they try to close the gap with Boris Johnson, whose capacity to mislead the public on Brexit has secured him the status of frontrunner to succeed Theresa May.
Ahead of the first TV leadership hustings this evening which Johnson is once boycotting to avoid scrutiny, a new report from the People’s Vote campaign exposes the Brexit Unicorns on offer from all the candidates vying with each other to be Prime Minister.
The Brexit Unicorns on offer from different candidates are:
- To somehow renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement
- To leave with no deal but secure a series of ‘mini-deals’
- To avoid the backstop through ‘alternative arrangements’ for the Irish border
- To withhold payment of the divorce bill
- To force No Deal through Parliament against its will
- To somehow get Theresa May’s deal through Parliament
The result is that the contest for leadership of the country is becoming as farcical as it is undemocratic.
Lord John Kerr, one of the architects of Article 50 and the UK’s former top diplomat, said:
“For much of the past three years - and arguably for much longer - the people of the United Kingdom have been badly served by the debate over our relationship with the European Union. In the 2016 referendum, the leading proponents of the Leave campaign suggested it would be easy to secure a trade deal, Brexit would make us all better off, we could secure the benefits of being in the EU without bearing the responsibilities. We now know that wasn’t true.
“What alarms me most about the current Conservative Party leadership race is that fiction and fantasy are back, and harsh facts again forgotten, as new promises, no less unrealistic, are made. The unicorns are back, frolicking in the Tory forest.
“Claims that the Withdrawal Agreement can be renegotiated ignore the solemn undertakings given by the UK government in March that it will not seek to do so, as well as the EU’s repeated statements saying it will not do so.
“The idea that the UK can leave with No Deal and then secure a series of mini-deals is an unrealistic as boasts that getting an agreement would be the “easiest deal ever”.
“Plans to replace the backstop with some technological solution ignore the Home Office’s own experts who say such technology will not be available for a decade or more.
“So it really matters that an auction of promises to ultras doesn’t become determinant of our nation’s future. Facts matter. Which is why today’s People’s Vote campaign document is important, as a first step to ensuring the unicorns receive proper scrutiny.”