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After delivering Brexit TMay’s follow-on objective will be blocking Boris4PM

August 29th, 2018

The Cape Town message is that she’s not going of her own accord

With Mr Corbyn apparently totally secure as Labour leader for as long as he wants the main UK political betting activity, as we get ready for the conference season, is focused on the Tories particularly on Mrs May’s survival.

There was a widespread view following the last general election 15 months ago that she will be “allowed” to stay in the post until Brexit has been achieved and then she will be going. Based on what she has said in Cape Town that does not fit with her own view of her personal situation. This is from the Guardian report link to in the Tweet above:

When asked specifically if she would contest a leadership challenge from Johnson, the former foreign secretary, May said she hoped to fight on as prime minister: “I am in this for the long term. I am in this for delivering for the British people, and that’s what I’m focused on.”

Under current CON leadership rules there can be no “challenge from Boris” only an MP no confidence move to force her out. This is not like it was in Mrs Thatcher’s final days.

Katy Balls in her latest email from the Spectator, the magazine that Johnson used to edit, has this interpretation:

“..A number of May’s inner circle privately concede that her departure is not a matter of if but when. Although most Tory MPs still think that she should steer the party through the final stages of Brexit — if only to ensure Britain does actually leave — there is a growing consensus that her job will then be done. ‘It’s very difficult to justify her existence past March,’ explains a normally loyal MP. Ministers who still stand behind her do so on a number of caveats. ‘If she doesn’t give a resignation timetable after Brexit, there will be moves against her,’ explains one cabinet minister.

Given that there isn’t much of a happy precedent when it comes to prime ministers pre-emptively announcing their exit, perhaps insisting one is in it for ‘the long term’ is the least worst option.”

I’m not convinced because I don’t believe there’s the stomach within the Parliamentary party to oust her. And like Gordon Brown in the years ahead of GE2010 the longer she survives the closer it gets to the next general election and the less the case for a potentially divisive leadership contest.

What really underpins her position is the suggestion that she would be succeeded by the former Mayor of London and ex-Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson, who is, according to the latest ConHome membership surveys, the top preference for next leader. His challenge is that he’s not popular with fellow party MPs whose votes would be required first to oust her and then to make the top two in the CON MP election to choose the final two to go to the membership.

Betfair has it as a 48% chance that she’ll be out next year. I’m far from convinced.

Mike Smithson