Brexit: Theresa May – done but dangerous

Politicians at some time in their careers pass a point of no return. It happens in many different levels in many different ways but the consequences are the same for everyone - you’re done. For those in the highest office it can happen in a very public, very brutal way. This week is almost certainly one such time. 

Theresa May is done - for the remainder of her time in office she’s a dead Prime Minister walking. At whatever point the Brexit fantasy that has dragged the country into its greatest humiliation since the loss of the American colonies under Lord North is finally over, then the Conservative Party will lead Mrs May off to her seat in the House of Lords. This week was a new low. A Prime Minister on national television blaming Parliament for the nation’s plight, attempting to set the people against their MPs - including her own. In what world does that kind of nonesense win people over? What kind of advisor gives that kind of advice? What kind of person wants the top job but won’t own the responsibility?

We shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve seen it before. There was a General Election, with a manifesto and everything, a shoo in for the Tories - but it all fell apart, Mrs May fell apart and proved not to be up to leading. In the aftermath she sacked her advisors - who may have been culpable, but to hide behind your staff, in business or in politics is a low and cowardly act. Mrs May was allowed to get away with such appalling behaviour because nobody else seriously wanted the poison chalice and, even had they, the Conservative Party just didn’t want another leadership contest. 

So we stumble through crisis after crisis to arrive at this week when the blame game that started some time back bubbles to some kind of climax and the Prime Minister decides that the buck doesn’t stop with her.

So just to remind ourselves:

  • The Prime Minister signs off the Government’s approach to leaving the EU Brexit devised by a close circle in Number 10. 
  • The Prime Minister tells us ‘Brexit mean Brexit’ - a searingly stupid slogan.
  • The Prime Minister declares Article 50, though it there is no plan - the signature on the letter is the Prime Minister’s.
  • The Prime Minister calls a General Election with a double digit poll lead.
  • The Prime Minister loses the plot and her majority with it.
  • The Prime Minister, despite the indecisive election, presses ahead with a ‘hard Brexit’ approach setting out ‘red lines’ that conflict with other objectives, particularly on trade.
  • The Prime Minister say the UK will leave the Euratom treaty - but hasn’t thought it through.
  • The Prime Minister declares ‘citizens of the world’ are ‘citizens of nowhere’ - further alienating people who see themselves as European.
  • The Prime Minister says it would be a mistake to disclose the UK’s position. Negotiations start - for many months the EU27 asks ‘what does Britain want?’
  • The Prime Minister fights a court case over Parliamentary sovereignty and loses.
  • The Prime Minister nonetheless refuses to involve Parliament in oversight of the negotiations.
  • The Prime Minister eventually gets an agreement in December - she delays the vote for a month.
  • The Prime Minister loses the vote by 230.
  • The Prime Minister ignores Parliament and brings back the same plan.
  • The Prime Minister says she won’t play for time.
  • The Prime Minister delays the vote for two months.
  • The Prime Minister fails to get any changes to the deal.
  • The Prime Minister loses the vote by 149.
  • The Prime Minister delays again.
  • The Prime Minister says it’s not her fault.

Spot the common words in the above sentences. My case rests.

Theresa May bought herself a degree of respect from the public for ‘sticking to the task’, of appearing to be the constant while Ministers resigned around her. However, it has become very clear indeed that Mrs May stopped is more concerned with how things look for her than what is in the best interests of the country. Nothing could make this clearer than that trantrum of a speech on Wednesday evening. 

And here’s the problem. How can Mrs May fail to know that she is the walking dead? Surely she cannot believe her time is not up. The Conservatives will not fight the General Election that will come if and when Britain finally leaves the EU with Mrs May in charge. She has nothing to lose. People with nothing to lose are frequently damaging to those around them. Politicians with nothing to lose often take others down with them. A Prime Minister with nothing to lose - you certainly don’t want one of them on the lose, no sir-ree.

Theresa May is now centrally concerned about her legacy, for what she will be remembered. She has divided the country, dissembled, repeatedly lied about her intentions and has proved incapable of the task. She casts herself as Margaret Thatcher but the comparison is absurd - like her or loathe her (and I’m firmly in the latter camp) she was definitely a leader. Theresa May is anything but. 

History will judge her harshly a public inquiry may well do so too.