MRS May may be feeling very galled but she is still today Prime Minister and Michael Gove has just said very confidently she will still be next Tuesday.
Though she may be forced to put her Withdrawal Agreement Bill on ice, and though she will be responsible for what’s promising to be biggest electoral defeat her party has suffered in history, why should she resign yet? It is not her fault, you see. She has done everything – it is her colleagues’ refusal to fall into line that is the problem – as she was still maintaining yesterday when she said they ‘have one last chance’!
It’s never been the other way around – a question of the last chance her party was giving her. Which should have been two years ago.
John Rentoul’s analysis of what she said and what she meant in her speech yesterday is brilliant insight into her thinking. You can read it here.
In the May mind, if she’s not going to be allowed to ‘deliver Brexit’ (has anyone considered the extraordinary use of this verb?) that is, by getting Parliament’s agreement for a plan, no one can. And the thing is, she has a point. As long as her rivals continue dithering on committing to no deal, not daring to put two fingers up to Parliament, she is laughing.
Look at it this way. If Theresa by offering Jeremy all the sweets in her pocket – customs union, workers’ rights, and all but a second referendum – can’t entice him to be her friend, would Boris have any better luck? No way. When the burglar won’t oblige even when you leave your car door open and the key in the lock it is indeed a bit of an impasse. It worked with the EU. Labour have proved a tougher nut to crack so far. Unlike the autocratic EU they have a constituency to worry about.
Until any of her putative successors say to their Parliamentary colleagues ‘go jump on your outrage trains – we’re leaving on October 31 on WTO rules whatever you lot think’, Mrs May will stay put and paralysis continues till an inevitable General Election.
And will they? How many of the leadership contenders have retweeted Jacob Rees-Mogg’s call for departure on WTO since yesterday? Any of them?
The Prime Minister’s latest proposals are worse than before and would leave us bound deeply in to the EU. It is time to leave on WTO terms.
— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) May 21, 2019
It’s true the Tories are now lining up to reject her latest ‘deal’. The tally of Conservative MPs who were holding out against it has almost doubled, the Times tells us. But the original tally was only 34. All they appear to be seeking is for ‘the prime minister to allow her successor to find a way through the impasse’, meaning going back to the EU, getting them and then Parliament to agree a free trade deal by October 31st?
Umm. In their dreams I fear.
Mrs May as ever is single-minded. She was said to be determined to press ahead today with a Commons statement outlining the new deal. I believe it. She’s pledged to publish the full details of her compromise package, including the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, within days. I believe that too.
But until her main contender Boris Johnson can bring himself to commit to leaving on October 31, as MPs like Owen Paterson are demanding, Mrs May may be safer than many optimistically think. The chances are that Boris won’t, not daring to risk losing the support he needs from his new ‘One Nation Tory’ colleagues, who – even Amber – if the right back-of-the-black-cab offer was made might be persuaded to bring her Ruddites in behind him. He wants and needs that Parliamentary ballot too badly.
While he is making up his mind, why shouldn’t Kim May offer Jeremy that final enticement – a second referendum? Isn’t that her final red line waiting to be crossed? He couldn’t say no to that. And she is already edging towards it.
So she may be entering the ring this afternoon for the final bout in her Brexit battle. Bloodied she may get but I wouldn’t count on her conceding defeat.
Meanwhile we carry on counting the days.
Today is Day 48.