Chris Moncrieff: May on brink as Corbyn awaits chance

Theresa May is under fresh fire over Brexit.Theresa May is under fresh fire over Brexit.
Theresa May is under fresh fire over Brexit.
NO wonder Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is so desperate to go for the kill. But the prospects of an early general election, which Corbyn so eagerly desires, seem remote unless the Government is defeated on a vote of confidence.

Rarely has an official Opposition
faced such a ragbag of a Government in such a state of fractious turmoil, mess and muddle as the present administration.

And with Labour ahead in the opinion polls and Corbyn having amazingly acquired almost pop-star adulation, there could hardly be a better time for him and his party to go to the polls.

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Corbyn and his cronies look on, frustrated, as Theresa May’s popularity 
in her own party is in steep decline over that dreaded word, “Brexit”. She has 
been openly accused by some of her 
own colleagues of betraying the 
17-plus million who voted for Brexit in 
the referendum.

Her latest blueprint for Brexit led to two major Cabinet resignations, along with some smaller fry, and led former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith to say scathingly: “I voted to leave the EU, not half leave.”

And Tory back-bencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is prominent in the assault on the new proposals, denounced Mrs
May as “a Remainer who remains a Remainer”.

His view, that if she continues along this path she will split the Conservative Party from tip to toe, is shared by a substantial number of other dissidents.

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Now, Parliament is waiting agog to see whether Boris Johnson’s new freedom on the backbenches will lead him to becoming a thorn in the flesh of the Prime Minister – he’s tipped to make a resignation speech.

Government whips are hoping to get some Labour support when the proposals are voted on in the Commons very soon. But Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has doused cold water on that.

So things could very rapidly go from bad to worse for the Government. Theresa May’s own position is becoming very wobbly. It could suddenly topple over if the situation does deteriorate much further.

AS if the Prime Minister did not have enough on her plate, she is confronted with yet another resignation.

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Andrew Griffiths, a minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has quit over the ‘small matter’ of sending some 2,000 explicit sexual text messages to two barmaids.

Two thousand! It is breathtaking to think he had the energy and time to send this number of messages.

He can hardly have left himself time to do any ministerial work at all, so his departure should not make the faintest ripple.

Surely he must have been aware that this would eventually all come to light.

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IF you think President Trump’s manners need a lot to be desired – which they do – you would not learn much about common courtesies by watching the ill-mannered antics of the Government chief whip Julian Smith, the Skipton and Ripon MP.

The role of whips has traditionally been to sit mute in the House of Commons. But Smith, demonstrating appalling bad manners, crouched in front of Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, while Raab’s opposite number Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer was speaking.

Raab was trying to hear what Starmer had to say but was plainly handicapped by this pesky little terrier biting at his heels.

One thing is for sure: The uncouth Mr Smith might benefit from attendance at a finishing school in Switzerland. Or perhaps a boot camp would be more effective.

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LORD Carrington, who has died aged 99, was one of the great political figures 
of the 20th century and early years of 
this century. He was probably the last British politician to have resigned on an issue of honour.

As Foreign Secretary, he resigned because he failed to foresee the 
danger posed by Argentina to the Falklands in 1982.

He was also biting about what has come to be described as inverse snobbery, once saying: “Why all this palaver about class? If you are a duke, it doesn’t mean to say you are stupid, or if you were educated at Eton that you
were precluded from being Prime Minister.”

Chris Moncrieff is a former political editor of the Press Association.