Brian Monteith: Why I’ve lost all patience with the Conservative party

It’s back to politics for Evening News columnist Brian Monteith – driven to it by Theresa May’s broken promises.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 6:00 am
Brian Monteith aims to join the ranks of MEPs picture here in Strasbourg. Picture: AFP/Getty

When I first ­occupied this space on a weekly basis it was because Malcolm Rifkind was contesting the 2001 General ­Election and he followed the convention of stepping back from writing his regular column, as it would be an unfair advantage over others.

What goes around comes around – and so it is that I shall be taking my leave from these pages as I too shall be contesting an election, the European Parliament elections on May 23.

I had not wished or expected to go back into professional politics, but then I had – like the rest of the population – taken as sincere the Prime Minister’s word, indeed her “guarantee”, that we would be leaving the European Union on March 29.

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You will recall she then promised we would leave on April 12, another vow she broke, and then her third promise that she would not even countenance remaining in the EU after June 30 – which she has also broken by agreeing a new leaving date of October 31.

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I have lost all patience with the Prime Minister – indeed I have lost all patience with the Conservative government and party. While she fails to deliver on her promises (and there are many others that she has broken) her colleagues condone her shameless actions by remaining in the Cabinet, taking generous salaries and pensions and all the trappings of ministerial office. They have not got the bottle or the honour to do the decent thing and force her out. They are putting themselves and their party before the democratic will of the country.

Having written so often on the ­subject, and having given more than my tuppence-worth of advice, I ­cannot sit idly by and spectate. If I have any honour, bottle and sense of duty I need to step up to the plate and test my own beliefs in the court of public opinion. I have been asked to return to politics on a number of occasions and politely declined, but this time I feel I need to take a stand.

Fortunately there is a new party, The Brexit Party, which is designed specifically to change politics for good by contesting the EU elections that should not have been required.

On Monday I attended a ­candidates’ induction meeting and found people from all walks of life – all sexes, ­religions, race, colour and class – a kaleidoscope of British society that turns the obnoxious stereotype of leavers being stupid, old, prejudiced, white, working-class men on its head.

These people cared deeply about the threat to our democracy posed by politicians who have been paying lip-service to how we vote. They too are fed-up and outraged that the largest democratic exercise in Britain’s history is being ignored and how politicians who promised to deliver it have in fact conspired against it.

There are candidates who have been active political figures on the left, the centre and the right, but this issue is not about their past, it is about our future. It is not about being right or left, it is about being right or wrong.

It is wrong we have not yet left the European Union nearly three years after instructing our politicians to make that happen.

It is wrong the Government and opposition have worked to ensure we did not leave on March 29 and it is wrong that, having promised in their general election manifestos that we would leave the single market, the customs union, and that there would be no second referendum, both parties are willing to consider breaking all three promises.

Hopefully this is not the last time I write for the Evening News; it has been fun, it has at times been moving, it has been a privilege – and your comments, supportive or critical, have always been welcome. But I cannot condone the behaviour of our political leaders, so I must take my leave and challenge them.