By Russell Bruce
The Conservative party conference resounded to accusations by Sunday Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes that at a private lunch in 1999, Johnson groped her leg under a table, grabbing enough inner flesh beneath his fingers to make her “sit upright”.
Lord Ashcroft, whose latest in-depth poll uncovered that the SNP are considered by the Scottish electorate to be 155% more Competent and Capable than the Tories has been giving his own reflections on the conference mood in his blog. Groping isn’t mentioned but it is not all good news either.
Johnson in typically ebullient mood, according to Ashcroft, dealt with high matters of state when he told activists: “I think we’re in a pretty good mood,” Boris observed, and not just because we were “full of beans after our lavish hotel breakfasts.” The real reason was that this was “one of those times in history when the Conservative Party really knows what it’s all about.”
A party that has stuffed its own MPs, sending them into Westminster limbo and increasing their minority government status is hardly a Conservative party that “really knows what it’s all about.” The Scottish electorate in downgrading Tory Competence and Capability to B minus have a much better idea of what Johnson and his party are really about.
Former Defence Secretary Penny Mordant warned Brexit would not be plain sailing into the sunset of never-neverland when she told a CPS fringe meeting dedicated to the subject of Britain After Brexit that things could still get worse. “MPs are about to move out of their building and spend billions refurbishing it, while not every tower block has been re-clad after Grenfell. If you think things are bad now, we haven’t seen anything yet.”
Cars – on the move?
Meanwhile out in the real world, away from the law and order party sending a hooligan MP home under police escort, another UK car plant faces an existential threat if the UK leaves without a deal.
Some working class areas in England, like Sunderland voted heavily to leave (61% to 39% for remain). Nissan having already cut production at their Sunderland plant have said the decision to build the Qashqai sports utility vehicle will be reviewed in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Nissan, with profits falling, is already in the process of conducting a global review of operations that will include the future of their Sunderland plant. Big changes are coming in the type of cars we buy in the wake of the diesel scandal and growth in demand for EVs and other clean energy alternatives. Not a time for the UK to mess around with the future employment of around 800,000 UK jobs directly or indirectly dependent on the automotive industry.
Safety in numbers
Whatever the truth of the groping allegations this one will continue to rumble, partly as a distracting diversion to the real groping. The Conservative Party has been groping around for a solution as to how the UK leaves the EU for over 3 years. There is no ‘getting it sorted’ because the real problems are coming home for those who wanted to ‘get back control’.
Control is the last thing the UK will have as it gropes for a position in the big wide global economy as trade wars and jockeying for position between trading blocks and the real major players, seek damage limitation in the face of a global downturn and to make gains from weaker less connected countries.
There is safety in numbers in good times and bad times. Leaving the world’s largest and most significant trade and political block could not be conceived at a more damaging time.