“The Prime Minister has no domestic opposition—but that does not mean that she has no opponents”by Jay Elwes / February 24, 2017 / Leave a comment
Theresa May has left Labour in her wake and now has an 18-point lead over Corbyn’s ruined party. The Copeland by-election victory was a stunning outcome for the Conservatives and the possibility of an early General Election arises once more. If she were to call one and the national swing were to mirror that in Copeland, the Prime Minister would hack Labour down to a sorry huddle of 170 MPs.
Like her Scottish counterpart Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May now has no domestic opposition. The PM stands alone on the high ground of Westminster politics, dominating the landscape utterly. Those leadership challengers of last year—Boris Johnson and the others—are all but invisible, their ambitions neutralised by the constant demands of high office. May, with her party gathered at her well-shod feet, leads.
And yet, despite it all, the Conservative party’s ascent is illusory, May’s domestic power a mirage. She enjoys a hollow kind of dominance, over an opposition party incapable of opposition, whose leader is incapable of leadership. Jeremy Corbyn is one of the least popular politicians in the country despite his supporter’s recent claim to the contrary. A recent YouGov poll showed his popularity rating as minus 40, the worst of any Labour leader in living memory.
The Ukip threat turned out to be precisely that—a threat—and the party leader’s failure to win the by-election in Stoke showed that it was nothing more. Ukip has been neutered, its main objective achieved and its principal asset—Nigel Farage—now a talk show radio host. May has risen to the top of British politics, having eclipsed a slew of mediocrities, none of whom have been able to match her for adaptability, staying power or luck.
The Prime Minister has no domestic opposition—but that does not mean that she has no opponents. She does. But, unusually, they are not to be found on the green benches that face her in the House of Commons. Instead they are in Brussels, Berlin and Paris, whose governments are now her true adversaries.
May has talked big on Europe and has deployed her characteristic steeliness when lecturing her party on the importance of giving no running commentary on her plans for Brexit. She saw off the vote on Article…