Abandon ship – Theresa May heads for Davy Jones’ Locker
Almost imperceptibly, the British prime minister has gone from “strong and stable” headmistress to hapless supply teacher who doesn’t know where the chalk and duster are kept, and in whose temporary care the pupils have risen up and are trashing the classroom.
As bookmakers open the betting, and rivals procure campaign HQs and pick their running mates, power is visibly ebbing away from the PM.
Of course when the history is written her disastrous decision to call an unnecessary general election last year, only to lose her existing majority, will be identified as the beginning of her end. But in truth she could have survived even this with a modicum of adroitness, a scintilla of empathy, and an ounce of leadership quality. Her cupboard was empty of them all.
The existence of a Fifth Column in the opposition Labour Party so large that it outnumbered the labor loyalists, endlessly harassing the Labour leader, the large national canvas of the Grenfell inferno, the Manchester Arena terrorist slaughter, and the challenge of the Brexit negotiations and Britain’s re-entry into the world beyond the EU were all opportunities for the PM to seize the national mood. But Mrs May turned out not to be a Mr Churchill, more a Mrs Bean.
Finding neither the words nor the measures, May stumbled over every rock in her path, appearing ever more robot-like, not even much of an Artificial Intelligence, just dumb and dumber.
Her party have had enough and amidst the havoc the dogs have been unleashed.
When Jacob Rees-Mogg – often described as the Member for the 19th Century on account of his double-breasted pyjamas, elegant smoking jackets and Dickensian smoking cap – made his statement real-estate move this week, one didn’t need a monocle to see what he was doing.
Buying the iconic Westminster pile which served as Mrs Thatcher’s victorious campaign headquarters throughout the 1980s, Rees-Mogg served notice that he was both her linear successor and in campaign mode. An authentic and pious paragon of Conservative values, a clean-living Christian gentleman with six children so far, JRM is the purest purveyor of the Brexit cause in the Tory ranks and importantly is untainted by office, and thus unstained by betrayal.
No such claim can be made by his suddenly new rival, Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
I have known Gove literally from his school days. He is smart, maybe the smartest, with a backstory worth knowing.
Gove is an adopted child, his adoptive parents simple hard-working ordinary people. His brains rather than any blue blood got him to Oxford and to the presidency of the Oxford Union. He was a journalist before Parliament and spent an entire year on the picket-line on strike against the management of the Aberdeen Press and Journal.
When I visited him in his inner sanctum when he was education secretary under David Cameron, he made sure I didn’t miss the image of Lenin on his office wall.
Ruthless Michael Gove surely is, and but for his act of Cain against his brother Boris, today’s foreign secretary would likely already be prime minister.
With the contest to succeed Cameron already underway, Gove knifed his running mate Johnson and fatally undermined him by additionally standing for the job himself.
Though officially chums again, in truth Gove’s treachery will never be forgiven and the two men are already rival candidates in (scarcely) waiting.
Gove is seeking to reinvent himself as green and animal friendly, and it won’t be long before he hugs a Husky at the Arctic Circle like Cameron infamously did. He has floated as his running mate Ruth Davidson, a Scottish pregnant lesbian who’s not even in Parliament yet. Not even Jeremy Corbyn had thought of that one! But Gove is damaged goods and not just with Boris.
He is as compromised as any cabinet member by the endless concessions of the Brexit negotiations – in his case betraying Britain’s fishing communities – as JRM subtly alludes only every time he opens his mouth.
But not as compromised as the caricature cad and mountebank Boris Johnson, whose time at the Foreign Office has been little short of farcical – and that was before his 18-minute crank call with the “prime minister of Armenia”...
Johnson is so rum a character, with his trail of cuckolded husbands, illegitimate children and broken promises all the way back to public school, he’s the sort of bounder Jacob Rees-Mogg would have horsewhipped and cashiered out of the regiment, never mind considered as officer material.
As all of this swirls around her, Theresa May knows her ship is sinking. In the end few will want to be standing with her on the bridge as it slips below the waves. The sight of Merkel, Macron and Abe doing business up close and personal with President Putin last week will have been confirmation to her that home and away, everybody else is abandoning ship.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.