Evening Standard comment: The TV debate told us nothing’s really changed; It’s game on this summer

EVENING STANDARD COMMENT

Ignore the dire reviews. Pass over the post-mortem at our national broadcaster about how they could have staged such a poor programme at such a key moment for our national democracy.

Last night’s TV debate between the Tory leadership candidates was, in fact, very illuminating. It confirmed what the Evening Standard has suspected. The five people competing to be our next Prime Minister are all smart, public-spirited, middle-aged men who start the day wearing ties.

But none of them have a plan yet for how to handle Brexit — and that’s the economic, security and foreign policy crisis facing the country.

As often in a pub argument, the more they shouted at each other from their bar stools the more it turned out that they agreed with each other.

All five would-be leaders agree that Britain must leave the European Union, although they know the country will be poorer for it.

None of them back a second referendum, because all claim that asking the people would be undemocratic.

Every one of them is signed up to the deal that Theresa May negotiated with the EU because all of them know that Brussels will not re-open the legally binding withdrawal agreement.

But not one of the candidates has a clue how to get that deal through a House of Commons that has rejected it.

As was said last night, Parliament is the only door out of the EU — but the Government has run into that door three times already.

Yes, there’s a disagreement among the candidates about dates but this is the narcissism of small differences.

Boris Johnson, who still looks like the runaway winner, says we “must” be out by October 31 — but quite sensibly refused to “guarantee” it last night. Having spent 40 years trying to get into Downing Street, he doesn’t want to leave it after just four months.

Sajid Javid did raise his hand to guarantee a Halloween departure but had no tricks to deliver it.

Jeremy Hunt was the lawyer saying he’d need a couple of days extra for the paperwork to clear.

Michael Gove said setting a firm date for our departure wasn’t sensible, and then set one for the end of the year.

All of them, except Rory Stewart, said no-deal must be kept on the table — but they all know he’s telling the truth when he says there’s no way Parliament will vote for it.

Thankfully, now that Dominic Raab is out, none are seriously proposing cancelling our parliamentary democracy to get around that.

So our new PM will start where Mrs May ended: committed to leaving the EU but with no way of delivering it.

An hour of shouty TV confirmed it: nothing has changed.


It’s game on this summer

This is a summer of sport with a twist: it’s not dominated by a mega-event such as the Olympics. Instead, there’s action everywhere.

Eoin Morgan smashing 17 sixes in England’s latest cricket World Cup win.

Andy Murray venturing back into competitive tennis in the doubles at Queen’s.

England’s footballers facing Japan in the Women’s World Cup tonight.

Royal Ascot thriving, even under grey skies.

And there are winners everywhere.