Is Theresa May Dead in the Water?
Brexit has opened Pandora’s box. As it stands, Theresa May is facing pressure from within her own party, with Tory Cabinet Minister Andrew Mitchell saying she has lost all authority and she is “dead in the water.” Others speculate that because of her Type 1 diabetes, she might resign “on health grounds,” while, according to other reports, “Tory MPs are threatening to write to Mrs May urging her to resign ‘for the sake of the party.’” Even worse for her, a “kamikaze” group of Tory MPs are willing to see Jeremy Corbyn as PM, in order to save the Tories, since a Corbyn Government is “guaranteed” to “end in disaster.” All this seems chaotic and is exacerbated by the imminent publication of the government’s EU repeal bill on Thursday where all EU law will be transposed into British law, an act that will replace the 1972 European Communities Act.
In addition to this unstable situation, a number of MPs from all parties are attempting to stop a hard Brexit by trying to change legislation. Rebel Tory and Labour MPs have formed a cross-party group with Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru and they are expected to carefully examine the repeal bill, which will be published on Thursday and debated in the parliament in the autumn. The former Labour shadow business secretary, who will be leading the group together with Tory MP Anna Soubry, said: “We will be fighting in parliament for a future relationship with the EU that protects our prosperity and rights at work, and which delivers a better and safer world.”
According to the Daily Mail, Theresa May found herself against her own MPs who are conspiring to replace her. Former Tory Cabinet Minister Andrew Mitchell said that May had lost her authority, she was weak and that she should go. Brexit Secretary David Davis’ friend, Mitchell, during a private party, said that the Conservatives needed a new leader and that May was “dead in the water.” The Daily Mail article, which points out that Davis is the favourite to succeed May, also referred to various reports by rebel Tory MPs who are thinking of ways to exploit May’s weakness and boost the party’s popularity. As the newspaper reported, “well-placed sources say allies of Mr Davis are trying to gain support from Tory MPs to oust Mrs May, with a coup followed by his ‘coronation’ as her successor. They hope to persuade rivals such as ambitious Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and ‘soft Brexit’ Chancellor Philip Hammond not to oppose him on the grounds of unity. Davis cheerleaders say that would avoid a divisive Tory leadership contest which could trigger another General Election – and the possibility of victory for Mr Corbyn. Labour are currently six points ahead in the polls. If Mr Davis were to become PM, Mr Mitchell would be expected to make a return to the Cabinet.”
Davis is considered a more suitable candidate for a PM since he already campaigned for Brexit and he has a better chance to strike a good Brexit deal. Tory rebels fear that if Theresa May remains a PM, Brexit will be “watered down,” since EU officials and Remain MPs “prey on her weakness.” The Daily Mail article quotes a Tory Brexiteer who said: “We have been campaigning for decades to leave the EU and will not stand by as it is diluted or derailed by Remainers or by a lack of leadership. If replacing Mrs May safeguards Brexit and risks Corbyn getting in to No 10, it’s not as bad as losing Brexit. A brief dose of a Left-wing Government is not the end of the world. In the 1970s it spawned our greatest PM, Margaret Thatcher.”
But the plotters have been criticised by Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames: “It is grossly irresponsible talk by people who regard ideological purity as more important than the national interest. Most Conservative MPs and party members are determined to rally behind Mrs May. Any Tory who thinks electing a proto-Marxist Government is better than losing a hard Brexit is barmy.”
Crazy or not, Theresa May is seen by many Tory MPs as lacking the authority to proceed with a hard Brexit and many fear that Britain will end up with a deal like Norway’s.
Invitation to Labour and other parties
Given the fact that her position is now precarious, May is planning to ask for Jeremy Corbyn’s support to deliver Brexit, despite previously attacking him. In a speech that she will deliver tomorrow, the PM is prepared to call opposition leaders to “contribute, not just criticise,” and help “clarify” her policies instead of attacking them. While Labour has already rejected her calls ahead of her speech, the PM is hoping that other parties will seek to put forward their “own views and ideas” in order to help deal with the challenges ahead.
May was criticised by Tory MPs and, according to the Telegraph, one said: "We can't say Jeremy Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser and then reach out for his support when it suits us.” Other Tory MPs were vocal about her “risky strategy” to try and pass her legislation by pleading with Labour to work with her and said that Labour was only good for “spending other people’s money.”
Shadow communities’ secretary, Andrew Gwynne said: “Theresa May has finally come clean and accepted the Government has completely run out of ideas. As a result they’re having to beg for policy proposals from Labour. They’re also brazenly borrowing Labour’s campaign slogans. But no-one will be fooled – the Tories are the party of the privileged few. This is further evidence that this Government can no longer run the country.”
Theresa May is doing the best she can to strengthen her leadership and the rest is “self-indulgent gossip,” as Justice Secretary David Lidington said. He blamed summer parties and “too much sun and too much warm prosecco.”
Theresa May is not going anywhere. And as many pro-Brexit Tories attest, hard Brexit is still on the cards because no one wants a “ludicrous” Brussels-delivered Brexit. Otherwise, as former deputy Brexit Minister David Jones said, “we might as well have stayed exactly where we were. We will have left but not left. Just like the Eagles’ Hotel California, we can check out but we can never leave.”