Writing in the midst of Europe’s interwar turbulence, the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci observed that ‘the old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.’ Though contemporary parallels with Gramsci’s troubled world can be overplayed, these transitional times have spawned, if not monsters, an impressive array of fabulous beasts.
Donald Trump is President of the United States. Self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders almost won the Democrat nomination. Silvio Berlusconi is once again on the verge of becoming the leading powerbroker in Italian politics. Jeremy Corbyn emerged from the deepest political wilderness to lead the Labour Party.
If, as the Brexit negotiations intensify, Theresa May’s vestigial authority finally fades away, the Government may have little option but to take a chance with a charismatic leader able to hold it together through sheer force of personality. And it is no longer absurd to suggest that, just as Labour members insisted on Corbyn, the Tories might turn to his mirror-image, Jacob Rees-Mogg.