Chris Moncrieff: Theresa May deserves praise for trying to solve Brexit... not vilification
The scale and ferocity of some of the criticism aimed at the Prime Minister by members of her own party is little short of a disgrace.
Theresa May, despite being a Remainer, has honourably stuck to the parliamentary pledge to fulfil the outcome of the referendum, while many of her colleagues whose support she is entitled to have flip-flopped around shamefully looking for ways to dishonour that solemn pledge. As I say, it is a disgrace.
Meanwhile, the humourless Brussels negotiators - many of them unelected - are making things even more difficult for her.
This may well be to scare off some other member states who might want to leave and yet will be daunted from trying to do so when they see what the UK has had to endure.
In short, the hard men of Brussels, with their bleak smiles, are fearful that any more "defectors" could see the whole rickety edifice crumble to the ground in ruins.
Theresa May has been doing her utmost to resolve a crisis which others created.
She should be commended for this - not stigmatised.
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Glory be! Who on Earth would want to lead the Conservative Party at this critical moment in its history?
Yet amazingly the runners and riders who want to succeed Theresa May are approaching Grand National levels - 17 so far and probably still counting.
The new incumbent needs to be a knight in shining armour, galloping to the rescue of a stricken maiden while running the country at the same time.
Boris Johnson appears to be the hot favourite. Asked at a business event in Manchester if he would be a candidate, the former Foreign Secretary replied: "Of course I'm going to go for it. I don't think that is any particular secret to anybody. But, you know, there is no vacancy at present."
Mr Johnson, a leading Brexiteer who quit the Cabinet last year over the terms of the withdrawal agreement added: "I do think there's been a real lack of grip and dynamism in the way we approached these talks (with the European Union). We've failed over the last three years to put forward a convincing narrative about how we can make sense of Brexit and how to exploit the opportunities of Brexit."
However, favourites do not always win races.
And that is certainly true of political contests.
Relatively obscure names like John Major and Michael Foot find themselves blinking in the limelight, leaving Michael Heseltine and Denis Healey regarding themselves ruefully as the best political leaders Britain never had.
So, don't risk your life savings on Boris.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable presents a suave spectacle as he glides across the ballroom - he is a polished hoofer - but perhaps he is not quite so proficient as a political fixer.
It was reported some months ago that he was trying to unite all the Remain factions in Parliament as an umbrella party of which, presumably, he would have been leader.
Well, nothing at all emerged. By contrast, Nigel Farage founded the new Brexit Party within a matter of days.
Nigel is certainly The Great Seducer, which Sir Vince is emphatically not.
Indeed, the Brexit Party is already running rings round the Tories in the opinion polls.
In short, the Tories are running scared as they wait in dread for the outcome of Thursday's European elections.
Will they complete their grisly meltdown?
It is just 18 years since bruiser John Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister, thumped a protester who threw an egg at him during an election campaign near Rhyl.
I am reminded that a senior Labour figure telephoned, in agitation, Sky News, telling them they had made a grave mistake, because the incident had never occurred.
What the caller seemed unaware of was that Sky actually had an eyewitness, who viewed the entire proceedings.
Of course it happened. And Prescott would have it no other way. He said after the encounter: "I was told to connect with the voters. So that is what I did."
There is a question regularly asked about political officials: "How do you know when they are lying?"
Answer: "When you see their lips move."