On Britain beyond Brexit and the future of Conservatism

On Britain beyond Brexit and the future of Conservatism

THE END-OF-AUSTERITY message has certainly got through to the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). On June 10th the CPS launched “Britain Beyond Brexit”, a new collection of essays edited by George Freeman and written for the most part by fellow products of the 2010 intake of MPs. The CPS hired the biggest room in 1 George Street—a vast hall decked out with gilt paint and portraits of bearded Victorians—and provided the guests not just with decent sandwiches but also with champagne and cream-and-strawberry scones. Several leadership candidates, such as Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab, made speeches. Penny Mordaunt clucked around like a mother hen (I wonder if her decision to sit out this leadership election might prove that she’s the most sensible member of the class of 2010). Mr Freeman made great claims that his book provides the party with “a new Conservatism for a new generation” and the intellectual tools that it needs to fight the resurgent hard left.

His enthusiasm is infectious. But he claims too much. His book is more of a curate’s egg than a Viagra pill capable of reviving a flagging conservative philosophy, let alone a hand grenade aimed at the headquarters of Corbynism. In his introduction Mr Freeman rightly argues that the Conservative Party is facing a crisis of the same sort of magnitude that it faced in 1848, 1901 and 1945. The political era that was created by Thatcherism is collapsing thanks most obviously to the financial order but also to the fact that Thatcherism doesn’t offer any obvious solution to pressing problems such as over-crowded commuter trains. The various contributors also tackle issues that Conservatives have shied away from, such as the importance of devolution.

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