In the Tory leadership debate, the rare glimmers of truth were even more painful than the lies

Tom Peck

Sandwiched in the middle of a row between Phil and Sharon Mitchell that’s been running since before the Maastricht Treaty, and a dystopian hell dream drama about the imminent collapse of human civilisation, it wasn’t quite clear where in the BBC schedules the Tory Leadership Debate either started or finished.

But somewhere in there was a new and innovative form of national torture. A circle on the floor read Britain’s Next Prime Minister. What the nation saw was five middle aged men, perched on bar stools, jabbing their fingers in each others faces like the climactic acrimonious scene in some fly on the wall documentary about an unheard of 80s boy band that’s gone back on the road to pay off its divorce bills and drug debts.

And it wasn’t just that. Real and reasonable human beings appeared on the studio wall, to ask variations on a theme of the same fundamental question, which was: why are you complete arsewipes all utterly determined to ruin my life? At one point, Suzanne from Southampton wanted to know why they wouldn’t rule out no deal Brexit, which would decimate her family’s livelihoods. Michael Gove told her, “Because we absolutely have to.”

All five of our heroes did their level best to appeal to reason, and to the nation’s better nature, safe in the knowledge that in four weeks time, it will only be a tiny clique of confirmed psychopaths that gets a say.

And yes, I absolutely do mean psychopaths. The latest day of fun in the Tory psychodrama was coloured by a poll on Tuesday morning, that showed that more than 50 per cent of the Conservative party’s membership do not care if Brexit destroys the Conservative party. More than sixty per cent don’t care if it hammers the UK economy and breaks up the union with Scotland or Northern Ireland. It is a suicidal terrorist organisation and all of us are its targets.

All of which means that when Rory Stewart patiently tries to tell the truth, that there isn’t going to be a better Brexit deal by the end of October, and anyone who promises you there will be is lying, it has frankly become more painful than the lies. Three years ago, Britain wandered intoA & E with a sore thumb. Now its on life support with some incurable Tory superbug. It’s there on tthe table, bleeding out. The last thing it needs is Rory Stewart calmly and patiently telling it how hopeless it all is. What it needs is liars, and thankfully it’s got plenty to pick from.

Instead, bring on the Saj. He’s going to sort it all out. He’s got “technological solutions” to the Irish border question. He’s going to “time limit the backstop.” He really is. He said that. If only Theresa May had thought of asking the EU to time limit the backstop, then she wouldn’t have had to have done that whole weeping outside Downing Street thing. What’s that? She did ask them to time limit the backstop? And they said no, did they, on six separate occasions, in six separate public press conferences?

Oh. Right. Where were we. Jeremy Hunt’s going to “grow the economy to the growth level of the United States”, that’s how he’s going to fix public services. Jeremy Hunt voted to remain in the European Union three years ago. Jeremy Hunt knows for a fact, right now, today, that Brexit will make it around a hundred times harder to increase the growth rate, but Jeremy Hunt wants to be Prime Minister so actual, blindingly obvious reality can be very easily relegated to a small side issue to be managed later.

Boris Johnson was asked whether “words matter,” by a Muslim man from Bristol whose name he promptly fogot, but who was rather upset about his likening Muslim women to letterboxes. Boris Johnson raised, yet again, the subject of his Muslim great grandfather, who came to Britain and found a “welcoming, tolerant country.”

Which is probably true, because it was a hundred years before his great great grandson was born, who would run a toxic referendum campaign that scapegoated immigrants. And then would start firing out Islamophobic newspaper columns for five grand a week but mainly just for lols.

We also learned, yet again, that the problem Boris Johnson so unfairly faces, is that his incendiary newspaper columns are always “taken out of context” by other journalists who are trying to attack him. No journalist has ever been sacked, disciplined or in any way taken to task for taking Boris Johnson’s words out of context.

Boris Johnson however, has himself been sacked as a journalist for making up quotes. This will really shock you, but, Boris Johnson accuses others of a crime of which only he is guilty. Who’d have thought?

Michael Gove still thinks being Prime Minister is all about how good he’ll be at scaring Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Ministers Questions, a subject which not so much half the country cares about, as not even half the people who have to sit in the room for Prime Ministers Questions cares about. And I would know. I’m one of them.

It was a short, pointless exercise in long pointless bluster, a diversionary exercise from the cold reality that absolutely none of them, and that very much includes Rory Stewart, has a clue how to get out of the Brexit hole, which unfortunately for them, is all that their small made electorate of suicidal terrorists cares about. Best of luck, lads.