Belfast Telegraph

A year is a long and crazy time in politics... just ask sad Theresa May and jubilant Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn, once regarded by his own colleagues as a disastrous choice of leader, is now seen as more than capable at ousting the Conservatives at the next election. Meanwhile, Theresa May, once the Tories' great hope, is now regarded as little short of a disaster by many in her own side. It must be the biggest role-reversal in modern politics

By Chris Moncrieff

This has been an astonishing topsy-turvy year throughout the entirety of British politics. Barely a year ago a huge majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party thought Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader was a disaster that would consign the party to limbo-land.

Now, after his impressive performance at the last general election, they see him as a realistic winner when Britain next goes to the polls.

Just the reverse has happened to Theresa May. She was seen as a cool-headed, authoritative leader who would keep the Tories well ahead of Labour, and a racing certainty to win the next election. Well, win she did, but in the process lost the Tories their overall majority in the House of Commons and put them in a far worse position than she was before she made her dreadful decision to go to the polls - a totally needless and, as it turned out, disastrous thing to have done.

So now Corbyn's boot is on Theresa May's foot, but added to all that, the Brexit negotiations are proving agonising, with a determined number of anti-Brexit Tories out to thwart them and posing a real threat to the Prime Minister.

And if all that was not enough the government in the Republic of Ireland is putting pressure on the UK to come up with a solution to the vexed question of the border and how to ensure that it does not become a hard border.

The Dublin politicians are threatening to veto any further progress on the negotiations on trade and the cost of exiting the EU unless the border issue is sorted out first.

But the DUP has set its face against any special status for Northern Ireland saying the province must be treated on exactly the same basis as the rest of the United Kingdom and, of course, ruling out any possibility of moving the border to the Irish Sea as some have suggested.

And with Theresa May depending on the DUP to stay in power it is clear that the party very much has the ear of the PM on this issue. Where do we go from here and how will the impasse be resolved? We await a modern Solomon to find an answer to this puzzle, but certainly there does not seem to be one on the horizon.

Even the DUP has seen a remarkable change in its fortunes. With the unionist majority having disappeared in the Assembly elections at the beginning of the year and the RHI scandal going to an inquiry 2017 looked like being Arlene Foster's annus horribilis, but the unexpected general election, in which the DUP wiped out its unionist opponents and gained a pivotal position at Theresa May's side - gathering a £1bn windfall for Northern Ireland in the process - suddenly Arlene was smiling again. Yes, the party would like to see devolution restored at Stormont but the prize of being May's favourite politicians is no mean substitute even if the party has to put up with the sneers of some in the Westminster bubble.

But Theresa May's woes do not end with Brexit. A bunch of some 30 no less resolute Tory backbenchers are up in arms over the threat of yet more defence cuts.

They are led by two ex-military men, Johnny Mercer and Tobias Ellwood, and have grimly warned May they mean business if Britain is stripped any further of its defences.

Now Gavin Williamson, the new Defence Secretary, is engaged in a fierce debate with Chancellor Philip Hammond, for more money to keep Britain's defences relevant to current international threats and to ensure the would-be rebels do not strike a hugely damaging blow on the Government.

May is facing slings and arrows from all quarters while Corbyn sits there in relative harmony - a total reversal of roles.

These potentially trouble-making Tories do not seem to have the wit or common sense to realise that the more disaffection they publicly spread through the Conservative Party, the easier they are making it to get Corbyn a free pass to 10, Downing Street.

Will they never learn?

Those who believed that the dreadful curse of political correctness was just a passing phase, could not have been more wrong.

As each day passes, its adherents seem to get ever more manic.

In pantomime, for instance, a prince has been told that he cannot kiss the Sleeping Beauty into wakefulnesss because it is not consensual and is therefore a bad example to children.

Also, some teachers have been told not to greet their classes in the morning with, "Good morning, girls" (or "boys" as the case may be) but to use, instead, gender neutral words.

And if you are in the Guides (formerly the Girl Guides, I believe) and you insist on saying Grace at any point, you must avoid referring to Christianity. Heaven forfend!

Plainly, I am nowhere near progressive enough for modern-day thinking.

Headline in the Daily Mail on Saturday: "This was the week which convinced me Corbyn will never be PM."

Headline in The Times on the very same day: "Corbyn's Labour looks cynical enough to win."

Take your pick, as they say.

Belfast Telegraph

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