Belfast Telegraph

May won election but with egg on her face and the party on its knees

A weekly column by the Press Association's veteran political insider

By Chris Moncrieff

Theresa May showed how to win an election and be humiliated in the process. How on earth can she cling to power with the political situation in such turmoil, and the Conservative Party in utter disarray? Chris Moncrieff doubts whether she will.

Theresa May achieved the seemingly impossible political feat on June 8: she both won and lost the general election in a single go.

How on earth can she or the Tories survive with a minority Government (controversially including some Democratic Unionists) with a rampant Labour Party and scores of angry Conservative MPs saying she should go?

She is not so much a lame duck as a dying duck in political terms.

Her constant repetition of moronic mantra like "strong and stable Government" and "coalition of chaos" began to grate after the first 200 times. And there was too much "me, me, me" about her campaign, which people did not like. She also angered pensioners - a fatal move.

And why can't politicians follow their own instincts about running the campaign, rather than employing expensive "experts" who proved worse than useless?

It is easy to talk with the advantage of hindsight, but May made a reckless, if bold, decision to call an election, which was totally unnecessary and catastrophic.

She ended up with her face spattered with egg and the Tory Party on its knees.

Who might succeed her? Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, is a possibility, but a Westminster seat would have to be found for her.

There is the inevitable Boris Johnson, or Home Secretary Amber Rudd, although her majority at Hastings and Rye is too small to risk.

Theresa May looked strong and resolute when she called the fateful election. Now she is a diminished figure, a humiliated political wreck.

The prospect that the Democratic Unionist Party may prop up a shaky, minority Government at Westminster has created worries in Ireland - North and South - and consternation at Westminster.

In Ireland, it is feared this could have an adverse effect on the economy of the North, and at Westminster it is pointed out that the DUP's views on abortion and homosexuality do not accord with the norm in Parliament.

But these are not issues likely to come up at Westminster for the foreseeable future, and even if they did, they are matters for a free vote in which the Conservative Party could put no pressure on the DUP or vice versa.

Even so, they would be strange and unlikely bedfellows.

Belfast Telegraph


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