The next PM will face the same immovable objects and will fare no better than the woman they defenestratedby Jonathan Lis / May 24, 2019 / Leave a comment
In the end Theresa May could run from the voters, her colleagues and political reality, but not herself. The prime minister lacked the imagination, social skills and political judgment usually required to ever become prime minister, and her hubris defeated her as soon as she did. Nobody forced her into the job and for months her colleagues tried to force her out of it. Now she has finally bowed to the inevitable, and no tears on the podium can excuse the personal failure and national chaos which will define her premiership.
The unique problem for Britain is that we have shed the worst prime minister of modern times but not the disaster she attempted to manage. May’s manifest unsuitability for her job helped shield the far more fundamental truth: that Brexit itself is the country’s catastrophe. May could be replaced by Winston Churchill and the outcome would still prove unacceptable to Leavers, Remainers and parliament.
Consider the months of futility which await us. May will cling on (if her party allows her) for two more weeks, in which she will preside over the likely routing in the European elections and Peterborough by-election, and the agony of Donald Trump’s state visit, just the third ever by a US president. In normal times it would be unthinkable for a British prime minister to host such an important bilateral summit after she has already resigned, and the visit (which would already have been excruciating) will prove almost unendurably humiliating. These are not normal times.
May will resign on 7th June, and immediately afterwards the self-indulgent navel-gazing begins. The Tory leadership campaign will expose the party as overwhelmingly pro-Brexit. The next prime minister will likely favour a destructive departure or no-deal, because that is the preoccupation of the Tory membership. There would be no going back from that: the party would be unelectable for a generation.
In the short term, the new PM should be in place by the summer recess, and bed in until September, as May herself did in the “phoney war” of 2016. Then parliament will gather for a few weeks, before quickly breaking up again for the conference season. And so at the start of October, the PM will announce his or her brilliant new plan for Brexit, no doubt involving a comprehensive renegotiation of the backstop followed by a…