Archive for the 'Theresa May' Category


Things are so bad with Mrs May that some Tory MPs want Nick Timothy back to provide direction

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

It is clear that whatever decision makes on Brexit it will likely hasten Mrs May’s departure.

The Sunday Times say

The standard bearer of the hardliners, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has privately told colleagues he would be a lot more relaxed “if we knew what we were transitioning to”. In extremis, this mistrust manifests itself in threats to oust May by submitting letters to the backbench 1922 committee demanding a vote of no confidence. “We’ve made our position clear to the prime minister,” said one Eurosceptic. “If she lets us down, the letters will go in.”

The procrastination from Mrs May is all about keeping her as PM for as long as possible whilst the national interest seems to be relegated as a priority.

As we say in Yorkshire, pee or get off the pot, the fact that Nick Timothy’s stint as Chief of Staff is seen as the halcyon days of Mrs May’s leadership and people want him back should send a chill down the spine of every Tory and near tumescent joy to every opponent of the Tories.

The consequences of Timothy’s stint as Chief of Staff is that Mrs May lost David Cameron’s majority, the Sunday Times also observe

The prospects of May getting any deal through the Commons could hang on the position of the Labour Party. It plans its own away day in coming weeks to agree a stance that is likely to be “opposing the Tory Brexit, whatever it is”.



Remember this cringe making TMay effort from GE17?

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Big mistake for LAB to assume that the Tories will be piss-poor again

If any CON MPs is still deciding whether or not to send Graham Brady a letter then they should check the above TMay “news conference” from the closing stages of the GE2017 campaign.

This is really awful and just about sums up her awkwardness, inability to think on her feet and the struggle she has answering questions from the media – qualities that are so important for a leader in modern campaigns

I highlight this because whenever new polls come out indicating that LAB is not doing as well as might be expected we get what looks like an automated response from many red team backers: The party was 20%+ behind at the last election and pulled back and ergo it can do it again.

    I would suggest that this is a totally complacent view and the very fact that the Tories campaign was so awful at the last election means that they are not going to make the same mistakes again.

They’re not going to announce an election without having done the detailed planning, Nick Timothy is not going to write the manifesto, they are not going to stop their leader appearing in TV debates and they are not going to go into the election headed by someone who was such a proven loser simply incapable of relating to ordinary people. GE2017 was a one-off and LAB needs to recognise that now.

Labour, meanwhile, is daily providing material that lends itself be exploited effectively by the Tories. Thus, for example, the ambivalence over antisemitism within the party hasn’t really hurt Team Corbyn yet it has the potential to really bite. The declared Holocaust deniers within the movement who have been given no more than a rap on the knuckles does not tell a not good story about the Corbyn/McDonnell/Milne team.

All this is before we get to the forensic examination of LAB policy proposals.

Labour can win the next election but the party has to get out of the GE17-generated complacency. It is going to be tough.

Mike Smithson


R.I.P. The Conservative Party 1834-2018 if the Brexiteer dream is realised

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

It’s either a/the customs union or remaining Prime Minister Mrs May.

Until Mrs May voluntarily stands down or is forced out we’re going to be subjected to stories like this. What is interesting is that it is the more fundamentalist Brexiteers that are revolting.

I suspect Mrs May will propose a much more pragmatic deal than these Brexiteers are prepared to accept, so taking the evens that Ladbrokes are offering a vote of confidence on Mrs May being triggered in 2018 might be attractive.

If Mrs May does agree to a customs union deal with the EU then The Sunday Times article says Liam Fox is prepared to resign, Paddy Power are offering 10/1 on the disgraced former Defence Secretary having to resign again.

But I suspect this is all posturing, if the Brexiteers had the numbers, they would have already made their move against the Prime Minister,  The Sunday Times say

Under the “Three Brexiteers” plan, senior jobs would be found for Priti Patel, the former cabinet minister, and Dominic Raab, the housing minister overlooked for promotion by May in her January reshuffle.

The plotters fear that a failure to pre-agree a plan would lead to a “free for all” in which up to seven Brexiteers would fight it out to take on home secretary Amber Rudd, defence secretary Gavin Williamson and health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the other frontrunners.

Penny Mordaunt, the new international development secretary and Brexiteer, has told colleagues that she has had “leadership training”.

Johnson’s allies believe he would have to win support from non-Eurosceptics to secure the leadership and have encouraged him to make overtures to Rudd, with a view to making her Britain’s first female chancellor.

Let us assume the Brexiteer dream is realised, I suspect they won’t have the votes in The Commons to pass any Brexit related and non Brexit related legislation with such a dream team.

That’s before we consider the point  just how unpopular the three Brexiteer government would be. That the government would be fronted by some of the most loathed and hated politicians in the country, with major roles earmarked for the architect of Universal Credit, a minister who recently had to resign in disgrace, and a backbench MP who can be characterised as having pre-Plantagenet conservative views.

When the Tory Party starts obsessing about the EU, it often resembles a monkey house with only laxatives for food, Jeremy Corbyn might as well start measuring the curtains for Number 10 if the Tory Brexiteer dream is realised.




The Sun once again leading the pack reporting negative developments on TMay’s future

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

The frequency of the paper’s reports should worry TMay’s backers

Last week it will be recalled it was the Sun’s Harry Cole who in two exclusive reports highlighted that the number of CON MPs signing letters to 1992 Chief Graham Brady was on the increase and was perhaps almost there.

In today’s paper there’s a follow-up to that story from Tom Newton Dunn who suggests that a leading minister is planning to speak out directly against Theresa May’s continuation in the job and then of course resign.

“The respected Tory MP has told allies he is close to resigning in a principled protest at the PM’s failing leadership.

He then intends to issue a call for new direction for the party in a speech from the Commons backbenches.

The minister – whose identity is known by The Sun – is one of a number not in the Cabinet left very frustrated by the PM’s failure to promote the younger generation into senior jobs during her botched New Year reshuffle.

No10 aides will fear his outburst is likely to trigger a chain reaction of other ministers and MPs also speaking out in a bid to persuade the PM to set a date for her early departure.”

Newton Dunn goes on to recall that at the weekend former CON MPs and now Times columnist, Matthew Parris, urged CON MPs to speak out in an article, we are told, that has “is being closely studied in the Commons tea room”. Parris wrote:-

” “The power of a single speech, if timed at a critical point in politics, can be incalculable.

“The time for that logjam-busting speech has come. Whether from a Remainer or a Leaver, the keynote is that this cannot go on.”

Of course the Sun’s reports have all been based on non-attributable briefing with no names being mentioned but it is the continuation of them that will be causing concern within Number 10.

In all of this the PM’s biggest strong point remains – there is no obvious successor. The betting still makes it longer than evens that she’ll go this year.

Mike Smithson


Graham Brady – 1922 committee chairman and the only one who knows how safe TMay is

Monday, January 29th, 2018

But should he have let his own views known?

Pictured above is Graham Brady, Chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee and MP for Altrincham & Sale – which is just down the road from Old Trafford where Manchester’s second football team plays.

Under Tory party rules 48 MPs have to write letters to Brady to trigger a confidence vote in the leader. This process was last used in 2003 when IDS got the chop and Michael Howard took over.

What we don’t know is how close to 48 letters the total is. There were stories last week by Harry Cole in the Sun that the total was getting very close and Brady was saying that now was not the time for a leadership contest.

Given the high level of dissatisfaction with TMay that is reported to exist within the parliamentary party there must be a strong chance that the confidence vote would go against her.

The very fact that a confidence vote was being held would be highly damaging for the Prime Minister.

One group of people who we can expect to be amongst those sending letters will be a group of MPs who have become disenchanted following the reshuffle. The sacked and the overlooked are not likely to feel kindly to the woman who made a huge gamble last April going for an early election which resulted in the party losing its majority.

Is it going to happen? That is hard to say but certainly the mood appears to have changed in the last couple of weeks.

It was always going to be difficult for Theresa May, having lost the party its majority, to continue in a post following the June election. Clearly it has been a massive dent to her confidence.

What has kept there until now has been that there is no obvious successor and the party itself is quite split or the sort of Brexit it wants.

Mike Smithson


DefSec & ex-chief whip, Gavin Williamson, – a good bet at 7/1 for next cabinet exit?

Monday, January 29th, 2018

The PM doesn’t seem to have much luck with her favourites

After losing Nick Timothy after the election, then her close Oxford friend, Damian Green, in December it looks as though the latest of the prime minister’s favourites, Gavin Williamson, could be in trouble.

The front page Guardian story won’t make comfortable reading in Downing Street this morning.

The paper is reporting that Gavin Williamson went to the Daily Mail to avoid answering questions from Guardian and then set up the Russian threat headline in the Daily Telegraph to switch attention.

What the veracity of the report is I don’t know but it is another embarrassment for TMay at a time when she herself is under great pressure.

Williamson’s appointment to the Defence Sec job in November was highly controversial given his total lack of ministerial or defence experience and the rumblings over it continue.

It has been widely suggested that Williamson is Mrs May’s choice of preferred successor whenever she steps down or is pushed.

PaddyPower have Williamson at 7/1 for next Cabinet exit.

Mike Smithson


Now isn’t the time to push May, whatever the temptation

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

But there’s a good chance Con MPs will do it anyway

Only one of the three traditional British parties currently has a leader – and that one by happenstance. To lead is by definition a dynamic thing. It is to set oneself at the head of something and take it somewhere in such a way that others follow. It is not a quality granted simply by virtue of holding a given office.

On those terms, Vince Cable is not a leader: he and his party are simply invisible. A leader of the Lib Dems would be going and grabbing publicity. Certainly, the losses sustained over the last two general elections left his party make that far harder than it was before 2015 but capable leaders of smaller parties – Caroline Lucas and Nigel Farage spring to mind – have managed it in the past. The Lib Dems’ impressively large membership has been garnered despite their leader, not because of him.

But Cable’s failings pale beside those of the prime minister. It was telling that she devoted her speech at Davos to the subjects of internet security and regulating artificial intelligence: important matters no doubt but not ones to grab the attention of either the national media or her international peers. She was in effect running back to the ground on which she felt comfortable as Home Secretary – a post that she’s never truly psychologically left. Even more importantly, she didn’t propose anything so there was nowhere for her to lead anyone nor for them to follow.

Her failure to become the leader she was elected to be is, inevitably, what’s at the heart of the renewed speculation over her future at the head of the Conservative Party. The newspaper stories this week might have been based on the alleged comments of the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, asking Tory MPs to be careful in submitting any more letters (a comment which by definition should always apply and which might be as likely to encourage some MPs to act as to put them off), but if more letters have been dropping into Graham Brady’s inbox recently, it’s because of the extent to which her standing has been damaged as much by the actions of others as by anything she’s done. But that in itself is only possible because the vacuum at the centre.

Politically, that’s a recipe for instability. Sooner or later, something will happen that will prompt MPs to act – possibly after a minister does so – or for May to quit of her own accord, though that’s much less likely: prime ministers are rarely short of self-confidence. If Tory MPs are thinking straight, it should be later.

There are all sorts of reasons not to call a Vote of No Confidence now. For one thing, while she’s not much of a leader, she’s not a bad head of government. There’s no great innovation and the intentions she spelt out on entering Number Ten will forever be unfulfilled by her, but as far as anyone else’s ambitions go, that failure to establish a direction is no bad thing: they have no need to engage in premature action to stave off an irreversible decision. In terms of the economy and public services, she’s doing a reasonable job of minding the shop. Sure, there are issues in the NHS at the moment and there are other challenges ranging from Universal Credit to Stormont but none that can’t be rectified with application and perhaps more cash.

Except of course for Brexit: that cannot be deferred. (Let’s leave aside unrealistic legal loopholes here – Britain will leave in Spring next year, probably on March 29, because that’s what nearly all Conservative MPs, plus a large enough number from other parties, are committed to). However, that very fact should of itself be a deterrent to action. To take another two months out of the timetable to indulge in a leadership election would not only be grossly irresponsible and look ridiculous to the public and to the EU27, it could only result in one of two possibilities: a new leader with much the same policy, in which case why bother, or one that wants to rip up 18 months’ work and replace it in a third of the time with something that the other EU members will almost certainly find harder to agree to (on the assumption that any change in policy would be to a harder Brexit) – which is probably not deliverable.

Either way, whatever the outcome, those who don’t like it will blame the leadership contest, certainly for it being a distraction and, depending on their view, because of the outcome.

Besides, if the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that elections are inherently unpredictable, both in themselves and in what the person or party elected turns out to be like. An attempted coup from the Ultras could end up with the membership being given a choice of Amber Rudd and Jeremy Hunt if, say, Boris knocked out the other Leavers and then imploded in a badly misjudged remark. Is it worth the risk?

And of course, there’s the even bigger risk that the leadership election messes up the Conservatives’ relationship with the DUP – not at all impossible given the interrelated issues of Brexit and the N Irish border – and the country is plunged into another general election, taking a further six weeks or more out, riling the public and risking the very real possibility of a Labour win.

We should note, while we’re at it, that there is the risk that the MPs having called a Vote of No Confidence, May then wins. I doubt that she would – the disillusionment seems too deep and the very act of calling a vote would undermine her position further – but the possibility must be faced. In that case, if she won narrowly, it would do nothing to resolve the situation and would probably bring discontent further out into the open; if she won comfortably, with MPs taking the view that now is not the time, then May’s position could be strengthened sufficiently that it becomes hard to challenge her again later in the parliament. On that basis, my own view is that whatever damage a leadership contest would do, calling a vote is of itself the point of no return.

But this is a betting site. The question of what MPs should do (from their own perspective) is a rather different one from what they will do. Muddling through is not an attractive option when there is an alternative, even if that alternative is a leap in the dark.

Will May be forced out this year? Until this last week, I’d have said no based on the power of the logic (though that was also the reason why I didn’t think May would reshuffle this year either). But now? I think there’s a good chance and if it happens, it’ll probably be in response to some incident we cannot yet predict in detail. Everyone has a limit to their patience.

David Herdson


If the Sun’s Harry Cole is right there are signs that a move against TMay might be imminent

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

At least this takes the focus off the NHS

As we all, no doubt, know the rules of the Conservative Party state that a leadership vote of confidence amongst party MPs has to take place if 48 of them write privately to the chairman of the 1922 committee, Graham Brady, asking for such action.

There were rumours following the prime minister’s less than successful conference speech in October that such a move might be underway. That fizzled out when the blame was put on the former party chairman under David Cameron, Grant Shapps.

Today’s Sun’s Harry Cole is writing that something might be happening at the moment.

“.. One senior backbencher told The Sun the top Tory was “ashen faced” at the prospect of getting one more letter recently – which he has intimated could spark a bitter leadership election and plunge Brexit talks into chaos.

The party grandee’s terrified reaction suggests the number of letters he has already received may now have reached the mid 40s, as anger with “dull, dull, dull” Theresa May spirals on the Tory benches..”

If such a confidence motion was passed then Brady would have to call an immediate leadership election and under the rules the prime minister could not put herself forward as a candidate. IDS in October 2003 was booted out in such a move.

Clearly Theresa May has been in an extraordinary weak position since the day after the general election which she called and which resulted in the party losing its overall majority. But on the Monday after that Theresa May told backbench MPs that she had got the party into this position and she was going to get it out of it.

The view since then has been that Theresa May would not be allowed to fight the next general election but would be able to stay in place until the Brexit process had been finalised.

Once Brady has received the 48 letters the secret ballot has to take place within 24 hours which reduces the time for the whips to mount a campaign on the PM’s behalf.

Is this going to happen? I don’t know but something appears afoot.

On Betfair, as I write (0300), you can get 2/1 on TMay going this year. You can also get 8/1 that she’ll be out in Q1 2018.

Mike Smithson