Mrs May had an unique opportunity, after replacing David Cameron when Britain voted to leave the EU, to reach out to rival parties over the implementation of Brexit and build a consensus – the most neglected word in politics.
She did not take it. Ill-advisedly, she chose to pursuit her own strategy. The consequence? The Tories taking sole ownership of Brexit, opposition parties and Mrs May’s own dissidents exploiting every weakness, the nation becoming ever more divided – and the PM forced from office against her will.
Like all political power struggles, or the Northern Ireland peace process now caught up in Brexit, an accommodation between Leavers and Remainers was always going to be needed after people voted by the narrow margin of 52 to 48 per cent to quit the EU.
Yet, far from promising a cross-party approach, Mr Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary, is ramping up his no-deal Brexit rhetoric in order to appease those 160,000 or so Tory activists who will decide the next Prime Minister. ‘Do or die’ is now his approach and his Cabinet members must all be true believers.
Meanwhile Mr Hunt, the current Foreign Secretary, is having to strengthen his Europsceptic credentials because he backed Remain and would not take Britain out of the EU on October 31, the new deadline, if a deal was in sight.
Yet they forget that the Tories do not command a Commons majority – and any strategy will require the consent of a majority of MPs from all parties if an even greater political and constitutional crisis is to be avoided. Will they get it before it is to late? I fear not.
IT took Theresa May just 58 minutes to deliver a Commons statement on the latest EU summit – and take questions. Talk about power draining away. Previous inquisitions have taken three times as long. Yet she has never once ducked her duties. She gave detailed statements after every summit. She also struck the right tone after terror attacks and the Russian nerve agent attack. Boris Johnson, for one, will struggle to match her example.
OUTGOING Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable did ask Theresa May: “With one of the Prime Minister’s potential successors having likened the European Union to the Soviet Union and the other having likened it to Nazi Germany, did she pick up any sense among European leaders that they will reciprocate the warmth and goodwill emanating from her party?” She replied that EU leaders were looking forward to working with her successor. Talk about the understatement of the year.
COMMUNITIES Secretary James Brokenshire was hopeless when questioned about his decision to back Boris Johnson – he could not explain how a Johnson premiership would affect town hall funding.
Conceding that “there are big issues on social care”. he said he expects Mr Johnson to “sort it out”. When pressed for details, he simply referred to vague talk of a “bigger vision” and a “positive vision”. What on earth does that mean? Spell it out.
HAVE you noticed how often Boris Johnson always refers to his spell as Mayor of London when listing his achievements – and glosses over his two-year stint as Foreign Secretary? As Tory grandee Ken Clarke said of the Tory leadership frontrunner: “Quite the most hopelessly irresponsible Foreign Secretary I have known from any party.” That’s some indictment.
WHEN it emerged that the police were asked to investigate a late-night row at the home of Boris Johnson, 55, and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, 31, neighbours reported how there were invariably multiple parking tickets on his car. One said: “He just leaves it here. He doesn’t care.” What arrogance.
FIRST Boris Johnson backed Northern Powerhouse Rail – and a review of HS2. Then, at Tory hustings, he set out his opposition to high-speed rail while endorsing Crossrail 2 in London. And, on Monday, Northern Powerhouse Rail was back on the agenda in his £275,000 a year Daily Telegraph column. Sorry, but this is no way to set policy.
WHO should come to Boris Johnson’s rescue when Channel 4 News tracked him down and started asking some probing questions? None other than Chris Grayling who blocked the reporter’s path. Don’t tell me Old Failing Grayling will stay on as Transport Secretary.
IT is heartening that my year-long call for the Northern Powerhouse Minister to be elevated to the Cabinet is gaining regional – and national – traction.
Rest assured, it would not require a new Whitehall department. It is about making sure the needs – and views – of the 15 million people who live and work in the North are heard and understood.
But one Yorkshire council chief executive – who knows how Whitehall does and does not work – also says an official Northern Powerhouse Committee Select should also be formed at Parliament. Why? Because it would have the right to question, and potentially embarrass, Ministers and officials, the Civil Service will be obliged to give the North more care and attention.
BEST wishes to John Prescott, and his family, as the former Deputy Prime Minister recovers in Hull Royal Infirmary after suffering a stroke. I might not have agreed with him on much but, in hindsight, Two Jags/Two Jabs (delete as appropriate) was a positive statesman compared to many of today’s politicians.