Theresa May’s worries set to continue despite Priti Patel’s resignation
The issues are piling up thick and fast for the PM.
The resignation of Priti Patel over her unauthorised meetings with senior Israeli officials is the latest blow to rock Theresa May’s Government.
So what now for the Prime Minister?
First of all she has to find a replacement for Ms Patel – the second time in a week she has been forced to carry out an emergency mini-reshuffle following the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon as defence secretary. She will be under pressure to pick another hardline Brexiteer to maintain the delicate balance around the Cabinet table between supporters of a “hard” and “soft” break with the EU.
Will that draw a line under her difficulties?
Hardly. The issues are piling up thick and fast – starting with the Brexit negotiations themselves. The sixth round of talks is beginning in Brussels with the Government anxious to make progress. Mrs May needs EU leaders to give the green light for trade talks to start when they meet next month for their final summit of the year. However, they have made clear Britain needs to move first on the issue of money and the so called “divorce bill” – and that could cause more difficulty for the Prime Minister at home.
Any other money worries?
The Budget is less than a fortnight away, with Philip Hammond under pressure to come up with extra cash for public services starved of funding after seven years of austerity, with the NHS top of the list. However, additional spending could force the Chancellor to abandon his target of balancing the books by the mid 2020s – something he will be desperate to avoid.
Are there any other ministers in trouble?
Damian Green, Mrs May’s trusted ally and effective deputy prime minister, is the subject of a Cabinet Office investigation into his conduct, including claims of inappropriate advances towards a female activist, all of which he strongly denies. And Boris Johnson continues to face questions over his handling of the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British woman held in an Iranian jail.
Where does this leave Mrs May?
Ever since she saw her Commons majority wiped out in the general election in June there has been speculation over how long she can last. So far, the Conservatives have failed to come up with a plan B while MPs are terrified another election will hand the keys of Number 10 to Jeremy Corbyn. How long that will last remains to be seen.