Belfast Telegraph

Chris Moncrieff: PM might still pull off a deal...but don't gamble your life savings on it

 

Prime Minister Theresa May making a statement in the House of Commons yesterday where she told MPs that today’s meaningful vote on her Brexit deal had been deferred
Prime Minister Theresa May making a statement in the House of Commons yesterday where she told MPs that today’s meaningful vote on her Brexit deal had been deferred
Esther McVey

By Chris Moncrieff

Have you ever seen such a shambles in your life? The House of Commons is beginning to resemble a den of wild Kilkenny cats: fighting, biting, snarling.

The government seems to be disintegrating before our very eyes, with its unprecedented number of resignations - and the Conservative Party is in the process of tearing itself to shreds.

Today's critical Commons Brexit vote - the outcome of which would determine the UK's future for years to come - was called off yesterday amid mounting evidence that it would fail, with the Prime Minister's Chequers plan ground to dust.

What now for Theresa May? She has announced she will go to Brussels to try to renegotiate a deal, but her position is much weakened.

The hard-headed Brussels negotiators - who, like Shylock, will try to extract every last drop of blood out of the UK economy - will show no sympathy for the beleaguered Prime Minister.

A government defeat today would have led to a vote of no confidence in Mrs May, which she would probably have survived.

But she is a strong woman who, to her immense credit, has not wavered one inch throughout these tempestuous events. She takes pride in being a difficult woman.

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The Prime Minister and her loyal supporters are working like beavers to achieve a deal she can sell to parliament. Some believe she can still do it.

But you would not want to risk your life savings on that happening.

It is inevitable that, amid all this turmoil, there is now open talk of a replacement for Theresa May at 10 Downing Street. Needless to say, Boris Johnson's name is on many lips as a contender.

He refused, the other day, to answer - except by a lot of meaningless political rigmarole - whether he would take on Mrs May.

And another former Cabinet minister, Esther McVey, has already indicated that she would probably have a go - if she were asked. And no doubt there will be others who will throw their halos into the ring.

But history tells us that it is certainly not always the perceived favourites who get the job.

Michael Heseltine was odds-on to succeed Margaret Thatcher, but suddenly John Major appeared out of nowhere.

And both Michael Foot and Jeremy Corbyn were highly unlikely choices to lead the Labour Party.

So, it is still far from being a done deal.

Meanwhile, Corbyn must be looking on and rubbing his hands with glee as he watches the Tory party in such a calamitous state.

Meanwhile, Ukip is, if anything, in an even worse state than the Tory party.

Nigel Farage, former Ukip leader, has been as good as his word and quit the party over the appointment, in an advisory capacity, of hardline right-wing activist Tommy Robinson.

Other prominent Ukip figures have followed in Farage's footsteps.

Farage - a man who does not merely talk, but acts as well - is considering setting up a new party, as he fears Ukip turning into a latter-day BNP.

He wants to recruit business people - and not merely those with an overwhelming political background.

New political parties are difficult to form and invariably have a distressingly short lifespan.

However, Farage, with his energy, verve and commitment, might just be the man to make one succeed.

Did the John Major government make a huge mistake in re-privatising the railways - a move which not all Tories at the time approved?

Judging by the state of the railways today, it was probably not a wise policy.

The system is bedevilled by virtually constant strikes; overcrowded, dirty and unpunctual trains; increased fares and flawed timetables.

Why can't our system be as good and smart as the impeccable Japanese railways, for instance?

No Tory government likes to interfere in private business.

But isn't it time for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to brandish his big stick and tell the myriad railway companies to improve their performance - or else?

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed that a Labour government would re-nationalise the railways if he gets the key to 10 Downing Street.

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