LOOKING back, it all went wrong the day Theresa May fired George Osborne in such a brutal and unnecessary way.
A man completely against the EU referendum paid the price for previous fallouts in the most undignified manner.
This behaviour from May fundamentally influenced the character of her government from that moment on and gave her gatekeepers licence to operate in whatever way they wished. After her disastrous 2017 election campaign, she found herself in dire need of some political friends but the absence of charm meant it was always going to be an uphill struggle to lead her colleagues from that point on.
During my time at No 10, when the Prime Minister was 24 points ahead of the polls, it was clear she got the diagnosis of Britain’s problem right, but has failed since then to prescribe a cure.
As she set out to help the “just about managing”, those on the treadmill of life but not getting anywhere fast, there was an opportunity at the beginning of her reign to unite the country in a way which respected the referendum result by bringing the losing side with her.
It was seen as a strength that she was a Remainer determined to deliver on the result, but by choosing to own Brexit completely as a party, she has already written her own legacy, all while allowing Labour to sit back and watch the Tories sweat it out.
THE GREATER THREAT
If Theresa May ends up handing the No 10 keys to a Marxist then she really will go down as one of the worst Conservative Prime Ministers of all time.
Jeremy Corbyn’s total failure to commit in any positive way to the biggest challenge facing our country in a generation has been a complete dereliction of duty and one I hope readers remember if he ever gets the opportunity again to go to the polls.
For all May’s faults, she is doing what she believes is in the national interest which cannot be said of Corbyn’s political history. Judge this man by the company he has kept and more recently for the failure to stamp out evil behaviour within his own party and you will see from that alone he is unfit to govern. He remains a dangerous man – a threat to an open, tolerant nation.
One thing is for certain – the country will only go backward under his control.
NATION’S FUTURE ON HOLD
For Theresa May, Friday’s outcome was, sadly, entirely predictable. A failure to listen, or to engage compellingly, has been an underlying character flaw, and her ultimate political undoing as PM.
It is a tragedy for the country that at a time we required perhaps the most sophisticated political handling in living memory – to arrive at a Brexit in the nation’s interests, we have been represented by someone so lacking in those skills.
Inside Westminster, her colleagues are exasperated by the PM. However, this view is not quite in sync elsewhere – public polling inside No10 shows there is still respect for a woman who was the last one standing, prepared to step up and serve at a time when other leading candidates fell apart. They see a woman who is doing her best at a time when parliament, like the nation it serves, is utterly divided.
Inside Westminster however, some see her complete commitment to serving the Conservative party has sometimes hidden a more generous interpretation of her motives — that she is resilient, that she is genuine, hardworking and that she has integrity.
She has a sense of duty to delivering the results of the referendum. However, it doesn’t hide her stubbornness and her blindness to history.
It is her tragedy that after two years in which she has done little to advance the ambition to champion the left-behind that she set out on the steps of number ten after winning the Tory leadership, her term is now measured in days – 14 days. In the dying days of her premiership the Commons does not agree with her, does not trust her, will not follow her and shows no sign of granting her the dignified exit that a lifetime of public service deserves.
We must acknowledge that every passing day is a missed opportunity to transform Britain for the better – to improve our schools, hospitals and employment opportunities – to prepare the nation for the onslaught of artificial intelligence in the next few years and its impact on jobs, to transform mental health services and to house more people.
Where the government is doing this, it often goes unnoticed. Where it isn’t making progress, we may well look back at the bigger cost of the stranglehold Brexit has on our political classes and weep.
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The hardworking readers who feel disillusioned don’t care about the goings on in Westminster.
The 17 million forgotten majority are angry. All that matters for them, then and now, is when will our lot in life improve? Given where we find ourselves today, we’re no nearer an answer.
For all the drama of Westminster, we’re losing sight of why this all began. That’s the real shame of it.