Prime Minister Theresa May has become the biggest obstacle to the UK leaving the EU, writes Paris Gourtsoyannis.
If the least eagerly awaited political memoir is the one being written by David Cameron – who, in a worrying development, was this week reported to be “fizzing with ideas” – then next on the list is the book by Theresa May.
Given that the Conservative Party is struggling to fill its European election leaflets, let alone a full manifesto, it’s an open question whether the infamously tight-lipped and repetitive Prime Minister can produce 500 pages on her political legacy. But they do say robots will soon be writing news articles.
Yet, if we do get to read the Maybot story, it will be fascinating to hear what her thoughts have been as she clings on in defiance of precedent and political physics. Even as the electoral disasters pile up, her fiercest opponents (they’re all in her own party) have given up trying to predict when she’ll go.
Some around her believe that because Brexit day has been delayed until October, and her promise to Tory backbenchers was only to go when a withdrawal agreement is passed, she has the right to stay on for another four months.
The prime requirement for politics is confidence and May clearly has hidden reserves buried within her. She may be the last person in Downing Street to think this, but she truly believes she is the best, and perhaps the only person, to deliver Brexit. But she is wrong. May cannot deliver Brexit. In her doggedness, she has in fact become the biggest impediment. The only way to wade out of the swamp that has swallowed up British politics is if she sacrifices herself.
May’s government is doing nothing, and that nothing isn’t limited to Brexit. This week the main Commons business was the second reading of the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill. On a global scale, banning performing animals is a worthy cause.
But it ought to have been done years ago – the legislation began its life as a private members’ bill in 2011, and has been filibustered by the Conservative government for close to a decade. To begin with, it only affected 19 animals in the UK; it’s taken so long to legislate that one has sadly died. Now, at a time of political crisis, it’s the best thing ministers can find to do.
Meanwhile, the House of Lords debated the Kew Gardens (Leases) (No. 3) Bill. The only thing to say is that it’s the third most pressing piece of legislation about Kew Gardens.
It’s been two years since the government last set out its programme in a Queen’s Speech, because it doubled the length of the parliamentary session to deal with Brexit. Now a new Queen’s Speech has been delayed, because May can’t put forward a legislative programme, and the government would likely lose a vote on it anyway. Forget about burning injustices – the government can’t even banish minor inconveniences, with plans to scrap 1p and 2p coins being abandoned less a year after they were announced.
On Brexit, talks with Labour are going nowhere. There ought to be far more anger at Downing Street’s upbeat readouts from negotiations that neither side has any appetite to conclude. Labour isn’t going to do a deal with a Prime Minister who could be gone next month. If the person who follows her is Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, an agreement becomes even less likely.
It will be difficult for May to accept that she has failed to secure her government’s only real objective: Brexit. But if she wants it to be delivered at all, her only option is to go.