‘One minister said: “It’s a horrible thing to say…but we are getting closer and closer to the point whereby we need some time in opposition to regroup.”’
If the minister who said those words to the Sunday Times is reading this, please give yourself a slap. Now do it again. Fill a bucket with cold water, and dunk your head in it.
Now look once more at the current leadership of the Opposition. Have you spotted your error yet?
How can any Conservative minister possibly – possibly – consider that it would be acceptable or even tolerable for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to get into power?
The devastatingly bad policies, destroying jobs and livelihoods, endangering this country’s citizens and harming our allies. The awful views, dragging Britain away from its finest traditions and principles, and towards the worst moral failures of modern times. The actively evil friends around the world, encouraged and emboldened by the sight of one of their own apologists occupying Downing Street.
Surrendering power to Corbyn in the midst of the Brexit process would be even worse – not least as he has committed to accepting even an awful deal at any price the EU might name.
And yet this nightmare is what this Tory minister was flirting with, make no mistake about that. There is no hiatus in which the Conservatives can say “we need some time in opposition to regroup” and take a magic time out of some sort. There is only the alternative: Corbynism, with all the misery and cost and lost ground and harmed lives that we know would ensue.
The Conservative Party, and the wider centre right movement, does indeed need to regenerate and regroup. As I wrote recently, the traditional cycle has normally seen that process happen while in Opposition. But it would be an appalling mistake to simply bow to that tradition on the assumption that it is a rule and not a habit, and in so doing let Corbyn into power.
We can regenerate our movement while the Conservative Party is in government. Indeed, we must do so, because the alternative is unacceptable. Actively choosing not to would be an abdication of our responsibilities, with a grievous cost to millions of people. Any Conservative MP spending their time daydreaming about that route, rather than working out productive and effective things to do to avoid it, is being worse than useless to their cause and their country.
So, just for good measure, minister – if you’re still reading, please slap yourself again. Now snap out of it.