Wednesday 22 May 2019

The End of Theresa May

Regularly polling fourth, facing electoral catastrophe as its EU vote goes everywhere but blue, its backbenchers in open revolt, and a government in disintegration with the Prime Minister on the verge of resignation ... Yes, unprecedented is an overused word, but that's what we're seeing right now. And savour it for we may never see its like again. When the inept meets the intractable, which is one way of looking at how Theresa May has approached Brexit, there can only be one outcome. In fact, there was only ever going to be one outcome: the Tory party, its venal government of the base, the boorish, and the befuddled was always going to come undone by the very thing it brought into being. The monster to Dave's Frankenstein, it is satisfying, so very satisfying that the referendum he thought would save the Conservative Party not only did for his premiership, it's also sunk that of his successor. And, quite likely, the leadership of the fool daft enough to step into May's shoes.

Of fools, there are plenty. Whoever gets the Tory leadership inherits May's mess, and would in all likelihood try and circumvent it by pledging themselves for a no deal Brexit. We'll see how long that lasts once they're in post, but assuming they'll want to see it through they will have rebellions of their own and parliament to contend with. Plus the sobering fact only about a third of the electorate would back them on Brexit, though supporting no deal does not necessarily translate into Conservative Party votes. But let's stick with May and her final days in Number 10.

A hundred years from now (hello 22nd century watchers!), May is not going to be well-remembered despite her centrality to the Brexit process. There are no achievements to her name, apart from accelerating the demise of her party, and her shortness of tenure and total preoccupation with and miserable handling of our departure from the EU are not about to warrant positive write ups and glowing revisionism decades from now. May is not someone who tried her best for the country. It was first, second, third about keeping the Tories together, surrendering and subordinating everything from the broad economic interests of British capitalism, the reputation of the UK state, its future leverage in EU trade negotiations, and the livelihoods of millions to the narrow, sectional, short-termist view of a favourable headline here and a parliamentary vote there. Seldom has such a pathetic spectacle graced British politics, of so much willingly sacrificed in return for so little.

And what is truly incredible about these dying days is that, to repeat a mantra, nothing had changed. After Jeremy Corbyn pulled the plug on the Brexit talks, May was saying she had an ambitious new deal to offer. Even when the BBC is emboldened enough to write the prime minister's new Brexit deal isn't that new", then you know she's stuck. Lecturing everyone on compromises and the need to make them after thrice failing to clear the Commons on the exact same deal, her new deal was, um, more of the same. She was happy to accept environmental protections and promises on workers' rights, but we had heard this before. What was new was the possibility of a second referendum. i.e. Allowing parliament to have another vote on holding another vote. Which, of course, would not go through unless May whipped for it - and even then the likelihood of passing rates as chancy to say the least. Nevertheless, the very sniff of a confirmatory referendum was too much for many Tory MPs, with dozens of them failing to show for what was likely to be her last Prime Minister's Questions today and the departure of Andrea Leadsom from the cabinet (worry ye not Leadsom fans, she will be back). But it really beggars belief how May thought her deal, totally unchanged save some wording on the non-binding political declaration, was ever going to bring about a different outcome. We live in such times as Change UK and the continuing employment of Chris Grayling as a senior member of cabinet, yet neither of them can touch May.

May in her closing is the same as May in her opening. Unidirectional and unreflective, what was previously extolled as her leadership qualities have become a Brexit-branded albatross around her party's neck. But she did it. Her downfall is thoroughly hers. She could have sought consensus in the Commons, she could have tried spreading the pain sooner, and bound Labour to a more reasonable and far less damaging deal. But no. She played Brexit for party political advantage, and when that backfired spectacularly at the last general election it was a matter of survival. She boxed herself in, closed off her options, and shut down her likelihood of success - with the added bonus that Tory recovery is going to be very difficult indeed. The left didn't design Theresa May, but if we had built a robot Conservative PM programmed to fluff Brexit and plunge her party into its worst crisis for two centuries, it could scarcely do more.


s mann said...

I would love to see a bit more scrutiny on Robbie Gibb - instigator of death!!! What was his role in the ruination of two great British institutions; the Tories and the beeb. What are the odds that aunty will welcome back the prodigal son with open arms?

Lost Tango said...

It's unfortunate that Labour isn't taking full advantage of this, instead plunging down the same rabbithole as May, just not quite as far.

Anonymous said...

“A hundred years from now (hello 22nd century watchers!), May is not going to be well-remembered despite her centrality to the Brexit process. There are no achievements to her name”

Just for the benefit of your 22nd century readers, the way you became well remembered back in our day was to kill lots of natives abroad or destroy entire communities at home. Our author is assuming that May doesn’t have time to be part of the lunatic West’s next war. I do hope times have changed for you guys, hopefully with the destruction of the environment the West is some kind of post apocalyptic wasteland by now which struggles to start fires let alone wars, in which case you most likely will not be reading this unless everything was written down before the catastrophe.

The Brexit party is actually the Tory party in the same way as Blair wasn’t Labour, so when Blair was in power Labour values were not in power and when the Brexit party is in the lead Tory values are well and truly in the lead!

So once again, all in all another victory for the people who brought this mess upon us all! And they say Corbyn is a threat to the ‘national’ interest. You have to smile.