This weekend it is the turn of the Tory Party to gather for its annual conference, with the event this year being held in Birmingham. Among the subject areas where new Prime Minister Theresa May will need to keep a firm hand on the tiller while treading carefully will be that of the EU: the referendum has passed, and the people have spoken, but one thing remains eternal - the Tories are badly split on Europe.
So while those who rooted for Remain, like Ken Clarke, Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry - “Super Soubs” is so much less popular with many on the right when she passes her honest opinion on the EU - suggest the vote may have been a terrible mistake, there are some at the other end of the blue spectrum who are demanding that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered immediately, if not sooner.
And to no surprise at all, those clamouring for “Instant Brexit” include former minister Iain Duncan Smith, who was such a useless party leader he was not permitted to stick around and contest a General Election. Duncan Cough and his like-minded pals have produced an “Action Plan For Brexit”, which is marvellous in its simplicity - and the apparent simplicity of the clowns who devised it.
There are four initial points to the plan; all demonstrate equal cluelessness.
1 Offer talks on trade and tariffs if they wish to change anything, saying we are happy to offer them no change to current arrangements
2 In other words, we stay in the Single Market as now, without freedom of movement or the contributions
3 The advantage we have on trading is that we are happy with the status quo, so they are the ones with the problem if they wish to change it
4 This reverses the presumption of many commentators that the UK needs to negotiate with the rest of the EU and is the supplicant.
Very good. But I have a few reservations. Like, oh I dunno, we just voted to leave the EU, which means the Status Quo is not an option. Also, as we are leaving, we are the ones wanting to change things, not the EU. And membership of the Single Market means accepting freedom of movement - the one cannot be had without the other.
Moreover, that Single Market membership means contributions. Once again, the one cannot be had without the other. If Britain decides to remain a member of the Single Market, the best that can be hoped for is that we do not have to contribute even more than we do at present - remember, there is unlikely to be a rebate in future - and we may get an “emergency brake” on EU migration. Otherwise we won’t get the same level of access.
We cannot just stick around and pretend nothing has happened.
To most people this should be obvious. Not to Duncan Cough. Anyone could form the opinion that this bloke was not just wilful, but congenitally stupid. No change there, then.