"You have just lost the most important vote for a generation. It’s time for you to stand aside"by Jay Elwes / April 21, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more on the EU referendum: It’s time for Vote Leave to come clean
It is the 24th June 2016—the Conservative Party wakes up to the news that Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Months of rancourous political argument, poisonous infighting and downright rudeness have come to an end. Life-long political friendships lie in tatters. It has been one of the worst-tempered campaigns in British political history.
And then things get really bad.
A telephone call is made. David Cameron answers. It is Boris Johnson. “Prime Minister,” says Boris, “you have just lost the most important vote for a generation. It’s time for you to stand aside. What’s more, there are over 100 of your own MPs who want you to go.” The PM’s response is as furious as it is straightforward: “Last year I won a General Election with an overall majority. I’m not going anywhere.” “In that case,” the reply comes, “you will face a vote of no confidence in Parliament.”
The House is recalled to debate the consequences of Brexit—it had risen on 15th June and was not due to return until the 29th. But the pound is beginning to slide. Ministers have been taking calls from business leaders demanding to know how and when the renegotiations will start, who will conduct them, how long they will take. The bond market is poised, ready to pounce. The Speaker calls the House to order. The Eurosceptic Conservative back benches are jubilant. They take it in turns to demand the Prime Minister’s resignation and each time are met with the gruff response—”I won the election, the public wants me here, so no chance.” A few Labour MPs also voice their satisfaction with the referendum result. Cameron waves them away.
Seeing no sign that Cameron is willing to budge, a senior Conservative backbencher stands to call for a vote of no confidence. The place descends into uproar. Then Jeremy Corbyn stands, and in the most significant speech of his life points out that yes, the government is in a state of complete collapse…