Prime Minister, Theresa May, officially leaves office today, with many Tory candidates hoping to take her place. But a new Conservative Prime Minister doesn’t mean that their 2017 manifesto promises can be forgotten or forsaken.
It was on their manifesto promises that the current Conservative party won power, regardless of who is their leader.
The most important promise of all was bold and clear:
‘The Conservatives will deliver the best possible deal for Britain as we leave the European Union delivered by a smooth, orderly Brexit.’
A change of party leader – and therefore Prime Minister – does NOT mean that the Tories can simply abandon the promises that got them into power in the last general election.
Many of the Tory Prime Minister wannabes – including front-runner Boris Johnson – have said that they are prepared to leave the European Union without any deal on 31 October.
- Even though these leadership hopefuls know, and have acknowledged, that leaving without any deal would NOT result in a “smooth, orderly Brexit”, as promised in their party’s manifesto.
- And even though such an action would be going against the will of our Parliament, that has decisively voted against leaving the EU without a deal.
- And even though leaving without a deal goes against what the Tories promised in their manifesto that they would deliver: ‘the best possible deal’.
The Tories simply don’t have a mandate to leave the EU without a deal and cause Brexit calamity across our country. Nobody voted for that.
The Tories would not have won if that’s what their 2017 manifesto had promised.
It seems that many of those now clamouring to be ‘King of the Castle’ forget that being Prime Minister doesn’t mean they can do anything they want.
In a democracy, parties win power on the promises they offer the nation.
All the Tory leadership candidates have said that they will not call for a new general election if they are crowned as the new party leader and UK Prime Minister.
Which means that they should abide by the Tory 2017 manifesto.
But it seems many of these PM wannabes think they can change Theresa May’s manifesto promises just because they are a different Prime Minister.
It’s a trick the Tories have tried before when changing Prime Minister mid-term, without going back to the country for a confirmatory vote.
When Theresa May was anointed Prime Minister back in July 2016 (she was not elected then, not even by her party faithful) she inherited, by default, the manifesto that got her predecessor, David Cameron, into power a year earlier.
But then, Theresa May immediately abandoned that 2015 manifesto regarding the EU, as if it hadn’t been written.
She planned a hard Brexit, red-lining ‘free movement of people’ and therefore staying in the EU Single Market, or being part of the EU Customs Union.
But the Conservative manifesto of 2015 – the basis on which her Conservative government was elected – assumed Britain would be staying in the EU.
All the Tory party’s plans, provisions and visions laid out in that manifesto were based entirely on our EU membership continuing.
Yes, the Conservative manifesto promised an in/out EU referendum and to abide by the result, whatever it was.
But nowhere, absolutely nowhere, in the Conservative manifesto of 2015 was there any blue print for Britain after Brexit.
You’d think that since the Conservatives promised to abide by the Referendum result, their manifesto would have included at least a page, or a paragraph, on its strategy and goals in the event of ‘Leave’ winning.
But no. There was nothing.
It meant that Mrs May’s new Tory government of July 2016 did not have a mandate to take Britain on any Brexit of her choosing.
The only option on the Referendum ballot paper was ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’. We knew what ‘Remain’ meant, as we’d had it for over 40 years.
But nobody specifically voted on the type of ‘Leave’ we should have.
There was no box on the ballot paper on whether we should stay part of the EU Single Market or Customs Union after Brexit. No box to tick on whether to retain ‘free movement of people’ after Brexit.
Mrs May assumed, on taking office, what Brexit meant, without any specific mandate for it.
She then went on to plan a Brexit that was in direct conflict with the provisions and promises in the manifesto on which the Tory Party, under David Cameron’s leadership, was elected into power in May 2015:
- The Conservative 2015 manifesto promised, “Our aim is to make Britain the best place to do business in Europe.” (Not compatible with Theresa May’s Brexit.)
- The Conservative 2015 manifesto confirmed, “We are clear about what we want from Europe. We say: yes to the Single Market.” (Not compatible with Theresa May’s Brexit.)
- The Conservative 2015 manifesto promised, “Yes to a family of nation states, all part of a European Union.” (Not compatible with Theresa May’s Brexit.)
- The Conservative 2015 manifesto promised, “We want to expand the Single Market, breaking down the remaining barriers to trade and ensuring that new sectors are opened up to British firms.” (Not compatible with Theresa May’s Brexit.)
The Conservative 2015 manifesto assumed Britain would be staying in the EU – that, after all, was the official position of David Cameron’s Tory government. His government formally urged Britain to vote to Remain in the EU.
But Theresa May, as the new Tory Prime Minister in July 2016, went ahead with plans that were not in keeping with the Tory 2015 manifesto for the UK to stay in the UK Single Market.
Some may say that manifestos are not important, because they are not legally binding (pretty much the same as the Referendum wasn’t legally binding).
However, a party’s manifesto is its pledge to the nation on what it promises to deliver if voted into power.
When Theresa May did eventually go to the country on 8 June 2017 for a mandate for her Brexit plans, she lost her majority entirely, but somehow managed to cling on to power.
Her manifesto of 2017 promised ‘the best possible deal for Britain’ and ‘a smooth, orderly Brexit.’
The new Tory leader and Prime Minister, whoever he or she is, has no mandate to impose on us the opposite – ‘the worst possible deal for Britain’ and ‘a rough, disorderly Brexit.’
If our new Tory Prime Minister cannot deliver what their party promised, then they should go back to the nation – by way of a new referendum and/or general election – to get a mandate from the country on what to do next.
Isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work?
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