The political touch of death has delivered a caretaker Prime Minister

The political touch of death has delivered a caretaker Prime Minister

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Thursday 13, December, 2018

LAST NIGHT a majority of Tory backbench MPs came forth and whispered a truth: they do not believe in the Prime Minister. It took the payroll vote to keep her in post. Nonetheless the votes have been cast and it is over, surely?

Far from it. 

The first few hours saw less grace from many a public schoolboy Brexiteer who should really know better.  The whole Parliamentary party simply do not see anyone better than May to lead them before the next scheduled election. That is damning of the ERG and of Remainers alike. The vote must be respected.

We must look for clues in the ashes of this coup for what happens next. 117 is a huge number of MPs who opposed May. We can assume a very large number of those will now go on to vote down the Withdrawal Agreement and this could well lead to a vote of no confidence in the government. That said Labour is offering no alternative and seeks simply to bring down the government because it has now lost three general elections and Corbyn desperately wants to project his vision for the country.

There has been no decisive change of direction for the Tories. May has made the disastrous error of saying she is going before 2022, to extend the inevitable. This generates two crises. 

The first is a bloodlust from left wing MPs and activists because they taste blood in the water. The second is a bun fight between leadership contenders, a cold war that is about to glow red-hot. This protracted dress rehearsal will be corrosive to the party and will leave deep fissures for years to come. 

The touch of death has been delivered. Blades have been drawn, blood let – and no victor has emerged. This wound will sap the motivation of volunteers, party members (many of whom will now resign) and voters alike. The surgeon's mantra applies, 

"Where there is pus, let it out"

There are many faults within the party that need redress. Party reform could bring together all sides. There is a shambolic lack of transparency in candidate selection and candidate funding, with some MPs threatened with funding cuts. This sours relations needlessly. The leader is hyper-presidential, appointing both the Chairman and ultimately the candidate board. This has served to dislocate membership from leadership leading to far too many identikit, identity candidates who simply don't get conservatism. This is not sustainable, it is slash and burn and has led to a dearth of sound future contenders.

The only possible way out of Europe as a danse macabre for the Tories is to fully leave, shut the lid of the box and never let the demon back into UK politics again. Everyone must see anything else drags out an issue long after the people have had their referendum.

There is some hope. Sir Graham Brady has conducted himself gracefully and rather fabulously. Calm, controlled and, so importantly, understated. The ERG have been served lashings of humble pie and not before time. The old boys club really has failed to grasp the mood of the house and faces dangerous isolation with few cards left to play. Still, a few.

The deal is dead and stinking. We will have much better soon, either from Brussels or in no deal at all. The truth is the Tory party has had its vote on May's deal and it's a dud because we have clear evidence now, hard figures, that the numbers are not there.

We're on our way. From misery to happiness and WTO Brexit. May is now on her way out. It's over. From here there is only dignity left for her to find, if she can.

The backstop must go, so should she. There is no shame in it. This is now for Brussels to lose.

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