This all goes back to the first day that cabinet ministers were allowed to voice their opinion on the EU referendum. Obviously a lot of people were hoping that the matter would be debated by the various sides in a civilised manner, on the merits of the issues. Instead Cameron made it personal, attacking the senior Conservatives who wanted out. Including having a go at Boris in the House. This shocked and disappointed a lot of people. Then there was his dodgy dossier, his pathetic negotiation failure and the way he has been telling lies with Operation Fear. All alienating a lot of Conservatives.
This has brought back to the surface the fundamental ideological split within the Conservative party. It has been lying dormant for nearly two decades now. David Cameron and George Osborne are not really Conservatives, they are social democrats, not unlike Blair. But the party was happy with them because they got results, even though they are in a minority at all levels of the party. Now it has been brought back sharply into focus, the wound has been re-opened. And Cameron’s declaration of not serving a third term has just been fuel on the fire.
So what we are seeing now is a large scale ideological battle between the social democrat One Nation Conservatives and the true Conservatives of Middle England. And the real battle is about which side is going to produce the next Prime Minister. The EU referendum is just a side show for both sides to play tactics with. So when IDS resigned it was very carefully planned and designed to cause maximum damage to the Cameron faction, especially to George Osborne who is Cameron’s anointed successor.
Once you realise what the real battle is then a lot of recent events start to make sense, the right wing media’s attacks on Osborne, for instance. Sajid Javid’s strange sitting on the fence over the EU. Michael Gove’s guerrilla warfare against the social democrats. Obviously they can’t be too overt, otherwise open factional warfare would break out. And they don’t want to look like the Labour party.
So who is going to be the next Prime Minister and when? David Cameron’s position is looking untenable, whatever the referendum results and he has probably had enough. There are many far better paid and far more satisfying jobs he could walk straight into. Will he even last till the summer? The new leader will not be a Whole Nation social democrat, the party has had enough of that. Obviously Boris is the populist choice and Gove the thinking man’s favourite. But there are 330 potential candidates.