It’s a safe bet that Linton Crosby’s first day in sole charge of the Tory election campaign did not go quite as he would have wished.
Crosby’s influence could clearly be seen in the jingoistic ‘you have to believe in Britain to negotiate Brexit’ shtick that Theresa May and, in the evening, Brexit Secretary David Davis were spouting – you can’t have a Crosby campaign without a meaningless slogan.
But that’s about the limit of the Tories’ smooth sailing on Thursday – their day was about to fall apart.
So far, Theresa May had refused to put a timescale on the Tories’ ‘promise’ to bring down net migration to below 100,000. But on the afternoon – apparently trying to curry favour and make up for her debating cowardice – May slipped up and put a time-frame on it, stating that she and her party were ‘working towards’ achieving it during the next Parliament.
That was a big slip-up – and it was about to be compounded by Davis.
Surprisingly, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg was the first harbinger of disaster:
While the BBC’s Question Time programme was still running, Kuennsberg flagged, live on BBC News, that Davis had completely contradicted his party boss. For good measure, she also threw in the fact that the Tories had never come even close to meeting that promise during their seven years in government.
Here’s Davis talking about migration on Question Time – and being challenged on May’s timetable by host David Dimbleby:
Fortunately for honesty and all of us, the outstanding, ‘take no crap’ Barry Gardiner was Labour’s representative on the panel and he was quick to focus on David’s vagueness – and the Tories’ abysmal track record on the issue.
Gardiner asked the question that all of us – and every ‘leave’ voter wanted answered:
For the Tories to have a collective meltdown so complete that Laura Kuenssberg was reporting it in frank terms on the first day of Crosby’s ‘High Command’ of the campaign is a huge disaster for the Tories.
From the new ‘believe in’ soundbite, it couldn’t be more obvious that Crosby intends to revert back to banging the Brexit drum as the Tories’ last shred of credibility to try to rescue their calamitous campaign.
But on day one the two most senior Tories in Brexit terms – May and her Brexit Secretary – not only failed to stay on message but sang from completely different hymn sheets.
The Tories and the Establishment media keep trying to insist that Labour are unclear on Brexit. But the message from Jeremy Corbyn and his team is crystal clear on their intention to negotiate single market access and create a “workers’ Brexit”.
Meanwhile, the idea that May can be trusted to negotiate Brexit when they can’t even get past Question Time on the first day of yet another ‘relaunch’ is simply laughable.
But nobody’s laughing – least of all the Brexiteers they were hoping to appeal to. Well, possibly Linton Crosby was even less amused.
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