THERE are times when a Prime Minister simply can’t win – and this appears to be one of them.
Those who say Theresa May should be more assertive over Brexit are the self-same politicians, and others, who would be criticising the Tory leader if she tried to circumvent the Cabinet on Britain’s future alignment, or otherwise, with the customs union.
The problem is that this is the country’s biggest political upheaval since it joined the then EEC and her Government’s very future appears to be increasingly on the line because Mrs May has lost the authority to neutralise the Conservative Party’s rival warring factions who have been at loggerheads over Europe since Margaret Thatcher’s era.
The deeper the divisions, and the longer that they persist as the reputations of civil servants become besmirched, the more diminished that Mrs May becomes and unable to negotiate a deal with the European Union that is in Britain’s best interests.
To use EU referendum parlance, she must take back control. And, while the Government has not helped itself with its obfuscation over the release of Brexit policy papers, public disagreements risk more voters coming to the conclusion that the PM is “in office but not in power”, Norman Lamont’s incendiary charge against John Major in the 1990s.
Given that a change of leader would only add to the chaos and confusion, the Tories need to remember that they are still – just – the party of government and start acting like one.