A Letter To Constiuents
Monday, 25 March 2019
Nadhim Zahawi (pictured) is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families in what, as of the current moment, could still be called the Government. I can’t claim to know a great deal about him, but he has come to my attention after he insisted, in an interview with the BBC, that there should be no lengthy extension to the UK’s departure from the European Union because he could not justify going to his constituents and saying that “we failed to deliver this and now we are having to stay in the EU and go into European elections.” I would like to be of service here and suggest a draft of a letter that he and his fellow Conservative MPs could send, with suitable personalised tweaking, to their electorate.
As you may remember, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (probably) was due to leave the European Union on the 29th March. As you will also realise, that did not happen. I feel I need, if not to justify this, at least to explain it to you. Please first understand that extraordinary times require extraordinary actions so I have decide to depart from all normal courses of political action. I am going to tell you the truth.
We f**ked it up. Not just Brexit - the whole country. Please, please understand, I never intended any of this. Brexit was never supposed to happen. Promising a referendum was just a political expedient employed by David Cameron to keep the party together and in power. He never expected to win a majority in 2015 - none of us did. We thought - at best - that we would be back in coalition with the Liberal Democrats and that we could blame them for not going through with the referendum we promised. The Liberal Democrats let us down by getting wiped out in the election and suddenly we had a small, but workable majority.
The thing is - and I really hope you understand this - that having a small majority meant that, if the party was to stay together and in power, we had give way to the demands of some of our backbenchers who insisted that we should come up with the goods. So David Cameron agreed to hold a referendum on membership of the European Union to keep them on board. No one believed that you would vote to leave - why would you? Most of us thought that this would lance the boil and end all the arguments over Europe.
What we had not really understood was how disaffected so many people were. How could we have guessed that people who had no more to lose from the economic malaise that had afflicted your community since the banking crisis would vote for change? How could we have known that years of being drip-fed lies about the EU by the papers who support us would have led you to vote to leave? Still, though, many of us thought that the best could be made of a bad job. The party was still together and in power. Surely we could agree a sensible way forward - maybe a Switzerland or Norway type relationship with Europe - that would satisfy the terms of the referendum but avoid the worst possible departure from the EU.
We f**ked that up too. David Cameron was replaced by Theresa May. We thought she was sensible. We thought she was cautious. We thought she was reasonable. I wish, dear constituent, that you could have seen her when she first addressed us as party leader; that you could have seen that terrible Messianic gleam in her eyes when she insisted that she would lead us and the country through a form of Brexit that embraced the ideals embraced by the most self-absorbed, most ideologically blinkered members of our back benches. “Brexit means Brexit” she pronounced in the sure and certain belief that this would keep the party together and in power.
How were we to know that things were going to go so terribly wrong? How were we to know that all that stuff about “having the EU over a barrel” and holding all the cards, about them needing us more than we need them, about their “begging us for a deal” was no more than jingoistic flapdoodle? How were we to know that insisting on red lines in our negotiations with the EU would limit our ability to manoeuvre in those negotiations? Who could have known? And they were necessary to keep the party together and in power.
So here we are. Very soon you will be asked to vote again. Three times. In a few months you will have the opportunity to vote in the European elections. I urge you to vote for the Conservative candidate. I am sure that whoever it is will be a great representative of this constituency. Then, in due course, you will be invited to vote on a second referendum on membership of the European Union. You will, I am sure, vote with your conscience. More urgently, though, you will vote in the upcoming General Election. I hope that you will, again, elect me as your representative in Parliament. It is important that we keep the Conservative Party together and in power.