THERESA May would have difficulties trying to square off her Cabinet, her party, her country and the European Union on Brexit if she had won last year’s election by a landslide – her original objective.
Yet, after being left bereft of a Commons majority, the Prime Minister also finds herself at the mercy of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists and countless cliques in Parliament, as she desperately tries to secure an orderly exit from the EU.
And while the final phase of negotiations on the terms of Britain’s divorce from the EU were always going to be traumatic ahead of this week’s crucial summit, the intervention of David Davis – who resigned as Brexit Secretary this summer – is particularly unhelpful.
By undermining Mrs May and appealing to Cabinet ministers “to exert their collective authority” to get the clean break Brexit that he wants, and could not achieve when in high office, many will question the Haltemprice and Howden MP’s motives after stressing that he was acting alone at the time he quit.
The plain fact of the matter is that Mrs May is having to deal with complex issues, like Northern Ireland’s border arrangements, that Brexiteers glossed over during the 2016 referendum. Only Tony Blair and John Major, two past premiers who drove forward the peace process, highlighted the potential consequences.
Presumably Mr Davis was one of the “hard line Brexiteers” that Caroline Flint, the Don Valley MP, had in mind when she appeared to break ranks from Labour’s position and say that she would be prepared to support “a reasonable deal”.
Equally critical of pro-EU supporters, the senior former minister, who voted Remain, is one of those moderate MPs who respects the referendum result, wants the best for their constituents who backed Brexit in large numbers and opposes a second referendum because it would fuel the alienation that led to the Leave vote.
With Ms Flint saying Britain is stuck between “a rock and a hard place” because of the stances taken by those on the extremes of both sides in the Brexit debate, who’d want to be Prime Minister in this week of all weeks? Presumably Mr Davis if there’s any truth in those reports that Tory MPs want him installed as interim PM if Mrs May is forced out because her job is, in fact, impossible.