It's time for Theresa May and her sorry government to go
I understand that there’s a Brexit nativity play doing the rounds at Westminster with Theresa May as the Virgin Mary trying to convince an apparently cuckold Joseph that nothing has changed.
But Joseph, like the rest of us, knows that everything has changed. And immaculate conceptions aside, what May has delivered, and that no amount of Christmas miracles can disguise, is a bastard of a Brexit that no one but she wants to claim as their own.
And while last week’s scenes in the Mother of all Parliaments were less nativity and more farce, the very notion of parliamentary democracy all but ended with the government pulling a meaningful vote.
Such hubris. A prime minister who lost a referendum, lost her majority, has been held in contempt of parliament, who cancels a vote on a deal that she knows she is going to lose and who is so loathed by her own side that she only won a vote of no confidence by offering peerages, restoring the whip to disgraced MPs, relying on a majority already on her ministerial payroll and finally, agreeing to sign her own P45 before the next election.
Surely, not even the DUP has the stomach for this dishonest government?
How must it be to stalk the corridors of power knowing you brush shoulders with one out of every three of your own MPs who wants you gone. And that pathetically your saving grace was the ineptitude of Walter the Softy who was put in charge of manning the ERG ‘kill zone’ against you.
And what has May won? Nothing has changed; we still have a prime minister despised by so many, a Brexit deal that won’t pass through parliament and a lame-duck leader that has fired the starting gun on a contest to replace her.
This isn’t resilience or having what Ruth Davidson described as “cojones of steel”, it is about bloody-minded obduracy. And it is time for May and her sorry government to go.
I have been struggling to try and sum up the last year in politics and Mhairi Black basically did it for me when she observed that on the day that the PM deployed her cunning plan to not have her Brexit deal voted down – by simply not having the vote – the day finished at Westminster with a woman with a sword chasing after a guy walking backwards stealing a big golden stick from underneath the Speaker’s chair, while some unknown bloke dressed as Santa Claus was peering into the chamber beholding it all. Insanity.
And yet, we have fallen so far down the Brexit rabbit hole, that this all seems perfectly normal; we have become so inured to the increasingly bizarre behaviour of some of our politicians that now anything goes.
A Northern Ireland secretary who was surprised to learn about sectarian politics in Northern Ireland, a Brexit secretary who was shocked to discover that Britain is an island separated by water from France, his successor, and a lawyer to boot, who thought he could challenge a European Court of Justice decision on Article 50 in the Scottish courts, a foreign secretary who referred to his Chinese wife as Japanese during a visit to Beijing and a culture secretary whose biggest boast is having a very large Lego collection.
And with Boris Johnson now casting himself as Aslan in some rambling Narnia metaphor and Tory MPs squabbling about even having to stand next to each other during television interviews, is it any wonder that the Germans activated the child lock on Theresa May’s car during her last-ditch pitch to Angela Merkel?
This is exactly what they invented the word ‘schadenfreude’ for.
It was May who told us politics was not a game and yet here we are, stuck in the middle, with clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right and with a prime minister pretending ‘nothing has changed’.
She said she wanted to take back control and yet is incapable of doing just that within her own party.
The question of the UK’s membership of the EU has lost countless Conservative prime ministers their job, so perhaps it’s time to consider that the problem is not with Europe but with the Tories.
And while of course there are serious questions to be asked of a weak opposition, the blame for the chaos of where we are now lands squarely at the feet of the Conservatives. They took us into a referendum to try and reconcile their own difficulties and then couldn’t handle the result when it came. David Cameron ran away frit and Theresa May has obstinately stuck to a comedic script about delivering on a vote that she knows was won on a lie.
May is not a good prime minister. She clearly believes that making a nation poorer, further isolated and demonstrably more divided, is in the ‘national interest’.
That is not leadership, that is cowardice wrapped up in some synthetic excuse for patriotism. Leadership would be saying ‘enough is enough’, taking a stand and saving a nation from itself.
And she has that chance. But amid last week’s campaign to oust her, and in a salvo to any contenders considering standing against her, May used the possibility of any new leader having to extend or even revoke Article 50 – an escape route provided by way of Scottish parliamentarians – as a threat, rather than a plea.
Her MPs took fright, and she won – if self-identifying as not being up for the job can be regarded a victory – but as the Labour MP Peter Kyle intoned, channelling his inner Maybot: “No prime minister is better than a bad prime minister.”