Westminster Wonderland: Are Theresa May’s Days Numbered?
With Theresa May having called off the crunch Brexit vote in the House of Commons that everyone expected her to lose, The MALESTROM’s political correspondent Peter Spencer wonders if her days are numbered in more ways than one …
Orff with ‘er head!
And why not? Her Madge has done it before, she can do it again.
You think I’m joking? Well, listen up.
In 1975, the same year as Britain voted in a referendum to stay IN Europe, the Queen sacked the Prime Minister.
OK, it was the PM of Australia, and it was Lizzie’s representative in that neck of the woods who did the deed.
But it did happen. The Aussies had got themselves into a total clusterf**k, and the royal edict unlocked the logjam.
If then, why not now?
After all, ask anyone in Westminster and they’ll give the same answer. “We’re all mad here.”
Consider the situation.
The crunch vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal is coming up. At some point. Whenever it is, no one thinks she’ll win it. The only question is – by how much will she lose?
In the good old days, if a government was just one short of a majority in a vital vote, the PM called a general election. Sorted.
Jim Callaghan did just that in 1979. And, er, lost, as it turned out.
But that was before the Fixed Term Parliament Act, when a PM could go to the country at any time. Now it’s not so simple.
A saving grace, perhaps, for Mrs. May, as she really really does not want to give that a whirl. Again. Remember the last time she tried it? The mother of all whoops-a-daisy moments.
But when her near-universally unloved Brexit deal gets the thumbs down what then does she do?
Worth remembering why almost everyone’s against it. It’s too soft. Too hard. Too vague. Too have a cake and eat it. Too have a cake and not eat it. Too fragrant. Too stinky.
The list is endless, leaving a listing ship of state. It could sink at any moment. Thus moving us on from a political to a constitutional crisis.
In parliament the atmosphere is poisonous. The veneer of civility is so thin it’s transparent. People stopped listening to one another ages ago.
As the Brexit debate grinds on the only thing that’s clear is the level of mistrust, bordering on contempt, everyone feels about everyone of a different persuasion.
And, seeing as there are as many opinions as there are people on what the terms of our departure should be, the place is at one with this magazine, only misspelt.
It’s a maelstrom. Of the nastiest possible kind.
So where, you might ask, is all this leading?
Here at least there’s a consensus. Between parliamentarians and commentators. They put it slightly differently, according to erudition and taste. But it all boils down to this.
“Dunno. Just dunno.”
The possibility of angling for a Norway-style agreement, basically signing up to the EU’s trade but not political regime, splutters in and out of focus.
And giving the punters another crack of the whip, ie the so-called People’s Vote, is also hovering around.
Helpfully, the European Court of Justice has ruled we can any time we fancy just call the whole Brexit thing off. Ie call the calling off off.
Still, in immediate terms, we’re confronted with a situation where the government can’t, ahem, govern. And the official opposition can’t make up its mind what its position is anyway.
Cue the Queen then? Sack the PM and make a general election happen? Right now all bets are off.
George Bernard Shaw, a lifelong atheist, once wrote a short story about Judgement Day, in which God invited everyone to make their case for going to heaven.
Each person claimed to have been really really good, but eventually admitted this wasn’t true and scuttled up his voluminous sleeves begging for mercy.
When they were all up there he sighed, shook them all out again and said: “Now off you go, try again”.
If only it were that simple …
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his wonderful takes on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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