Can May survive civil war?
Can Theresa May and her minority Government survive the entire length of a full Parliament, with its Cabinet members squabbling like schoolchildren in the playground?
Such an achievement seems an impossibility, given the obstacles that lie in the path ahead. Chief among these is the Brexit Bill, which came under a barrage of criticism within minutes of its publication last week. If the Government were defeated on the second reading, that would surely bring about the collapse of the May administration and probably force a general election. And given the upward surge of Labour, the unpredicted popularity of Jeremy Corbyn, and the current state of the Tories’ disarray, that is a distinct possibility. A general election is the last thing Theresa May wants.
The full panoply of the Opposition parties – with the exception of the DUP – would be ranged against the Government, plus some of her disloyal backbenchers.
The Cabinet is in an unprecedented state of disarray. Chancellor Philip Hammond has found himself in the situation of having to tell his Cabinet critics to shut up and get on with their jobs.
A Cabinet is supposed to display collective agreement and not be a hotbed of feuding. Added to this scenario is the fear that a group of disloyal anti-Brexit Conservative MPs could join the opposition parties and scupper this Government for good over the Brexit Bill.
This dire situation is not eased by clarion calls that the Tory Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin, pictured, should be removed from office. The charge against him is that he was invisible during the general election campaign. But it may well have been that the useless “experts”, brought in to advise on the Tory campaign, ordered that he – along with other Cabinet ministers – should lie low. A catastrophic mistake, but not one of McLoughlin’s doing.
The Prime Minister would be wise to keep McLoughlin in his job. The Conservative Party does not need any further disruption. However, I think May has the political will to keep marching forward. But I doubt whether she is sleeping as soundly as she was a year ago.