Brexiteer fantasies are wrecking Britain '“ leader comment

The attempt to oust Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party was bound to fail from the start and was nothing but a meaningless distraction.

They were doomed to fail from the start, they knew it, yet still they sallied forth to make a stand for Britain. Perhaps Jacob Rees-Mogg shed a patriotic tear as he put a cross in the box marked “I DO NOT HAVE confidence in Theresa May as Leader of the Conservative Party”.

The trouble is that a guide to good governance is seldom, if ever, to be found in the pages of historical fiction. Fighting battles you know you are going to lose is not brave, it’s stupid, whether they are physical or political.

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So the failed attempt by a minority of Conservative MPs to unseat the Prime Minister – at a critical moment in the Brexit process – was nothing more than an utterly unhelpful distraction. The public will wake up today with May still in Downing Street, still struggling to win even small concessions over the Irish backstop from the EU, and trying keep her splintering party together. And people are likely to wonder, “what was that all about?”

Arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg's efforts to oust Theresa May were in vain (Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire)

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If it demonstrates anything, it is an attitude that is all-too-common among hardcore Brexiteers: warnings by respected economists about the adverse effects of a no-deal Brexit are dismissed airily as “Project Fear” despite the lack of rigorous analysis to the contrary; blind faith is preferred to expert advice; romantic fantasy believed over hard truths.

These are the people who sold the country an unachievable dream and now complain it has turned into a nightmare. The people who, in their own minds but nowhere else, would go to Brussels, issue their demands and watch the EU do its best to please.

Back in the real world, a weakened May continues to lead almost by default as the UK stumbles towards an accidental no-deal Brexit that could wreck our economy for years.