May passes party test on the road to Brexit

1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

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Theresa May’s timing was impeccable.

It was a wise, indeed essential, move on the part of the Prime Minister, to announce on the eve of the Conservative Party conference that progress is already being made to begin Brexit.

Had she failed to do this, she would have been nagged from the start of the conference until the end with cries of “get a move on!”

May has put forward what, on the face of it, appears to be a comprehensive and sensible package. But those in the engine room, so to speak, who will have to continue negotiating with Brussels, will not find it plain sailing. Storms lie ahead.

They will have to contend with some hard-headed Eurocrats, notably Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, who seem hell-bent on resisting what Britain is perfectly legally trying to do.

They will bitterly oppose any attempts to indulge in what they call “cherry-picking” by Britain during the negotiations.

It is interesting how the protests of the anti-Brexiteers have now died down. Barely any of the horrors they predicted as a result of the referendum vote have come to pass.

This leaves Juncker and his fellow Eurocrats fearful that other countries may follow Britain’s lead. The “Project Fear” campaign now appears to be in shreds and before too long, Britain will be able to govern itself rather than Brussels.

Are we now looking at the prospect of an early election ahead?

- Jeremy Corbyn wins an even greater mandate to lead Labour, and yet a large proportion of the Parliamentary Labour Party still wants to oust him.

But they are stuck with him - and the party is at an impasse, or worse. And unless the present Labour leadership election process is drastically changed, they won’t get rid of him, even if there were 100 more such elections.

And even if Labour suffer a heavy defeat at the next general election (and there is by no means certainty of that) I doubt whether he would go. When the hard left get a foothold on power, they do not give it up that easily. The party is hoist by its own petard and, as a consequence, will have to live - or die - by it.