This referendum is going to end up like one of those Elizabethan tragedies, with all the leading actors dead in a bloody heap at centre stage. Nobody at the front of either campaign is going to come out of this thing in any way except politically dead.
Boris Johnson has demonstrated too often and too publicly that his buffoonery is a cover for his intellectual laziness.
David Cameron has behaved in such a loathsome, slippery way that even Remain Conservative must be repulsed by him. More, he has shown cowardice in dodging debates. Voters have seen it all and won’t forget any of it. Conservatives MPs will rush to get rid of Cameron as leader, whatever the outcome on June 23.
George Osborne has shown himself dishonest, always the worst sin in a politician who is supposed to be managing the country’s money. He has tainted the Treasury by manoeuvring it to publish a series of politically-skewed scare reports.
Michael Gove has proved intellectually thin in his arguments and has already retreated from the front line of the fight to Leave. That marks him as an unreliable ally – not, in short, the sort of man with whom you’d go into the jungle. Or into any future fight.
Kate Hoey, once Leave’s Labour hope, has disappeared. She won’t be back.
Iain Duncan Smith offers nothing but agonised outrage at the dishonesty of the Remain campaign. Nobody needs an emotional but impotent politician.
Nigel Farage is offering nothing but the same lines he offered during the general election. The lines didn’t work then, they aren’t working now.
Then yesterday Farage was caught on microphone telling supporters to ‘bully’ people into voting for Brexit. That was a particularly ill-judged use of a word, because it gave the Daily Mail political correspondent a peg to add: ‘Last night it emerged that Mr Farage's Leave.EU group published the personal mobile numbers of officials in the rival Vote Leave campaign in an extraordinary outbreak of infighting between the two Brexit camps.’
‘In an email to a public email list, Leave.EU urged supporters to call Vote Leave individuals - including UKIP MP Douglas Carswell - to demand Mr Farage be included in a televised EU referendum debate.’
This is dangerously similar to reports of bullying by UKIP late last year, when Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only MP, and a man at war with Nigel Farage, received a threatening telephone call from within the party asking questions about his private life.
As for Labour, there is no sincere Leave nor Remain campaigning going on. The Corbyn leadership seems to think the best policy is to keep their heads down and wait for the Conservatives to slaughter each other. Note to Labour: invisibility does not win votes.
What happens after the fight is over and the body-count of leadership is complete? I don’t know.
But what I can’t get out of my head is that a little-known Napoleon Bonaparte was promoted to the rank of brigadier general at the age of 26 only because most of the officer class was either in exile or executed by the Terror.
For the next Conservative leaders, one needs to look to men who are as yet little-known.