Even Jeremy Corbyn has expressed sympathy for Theresa May. She did put herself forward to be the Prime Minister in charge of delivering Brexit but it has surely been a much tougher task than she could have possibly expected.
She has made missteps on the way. She decided to reach out for support to hardline Brexiteers in her own party and the DUP. The result of that decision was a deal that almost no one likes – least of all the hardliners she hoped would back her.
If only she had looked to Remainers who accepted the 2016 referendum result, the UK could now be preparing for an orderly, sensible Brexit, one that caused the least possible damage to the economy.
May did get some things right, ignoring the advice of Donald Trump, as Donald Trump Jr sulkily pointed out in an article in the Telegraph yesterday.
Unfortunately, Brexit Britain will be in no position to ignore Trump for much longer as we seek a much-needed trade deal with the US, negotiating from a position of weakness against a man who believes himself to be the world’s greatest deal-maker and whose stated priorities are to “Make America Great Again” and put “America First”. His real priority may be to win re-election in 2020, but maintaining a ‘special relationship’ with the UK is not a pressing concern.
May’s better qualities include dogged determination and courage under fire, undermined by a tendency to seek refuge in stock phrases. Who would have thought that after her Brexit plan suffered the biggest defeat in Commons history, we’d still be talking about it – and still even after a second, smaller landslide defeat. But we are.
However even she must now realise that a third strike would mean she would, finally, be out. No one could say she didn’t do her best to ensure that “Brexit means Brexit”. It would be the fault of others – chief among them the foolishly optimistic hardliners – if it does not occur.
For the umpteenth time, The Scotsman will advise MPs who wish Brexit to happen to vote for May’s plan. It’s far from ideal. It would be better if we stayed in the EU. But it avoids the utter disaster of a no-deal Brexit. If it fails again, May should resign, but her last duty would be to ensure that the consequence of this was not a no-deal. Otherwise history will judge her doggedness as dithering and blame her for what could well be an economic calamity of global proportions.