Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May might be on the ropes but can Jeremy Corbyn land a knockout punch?

The Conservatives are beginning to panic over the forthcoming Brexit votes, yet Labour looks incapable of capitalising on it

By Chris Moncrieff

The unknown person who illicitly recorded and then leaked Boris Johnson's blazing speech about Brexit at a strictly private gathering has done the nation a great service. Some have even suggested that - perish the thought - Johnson might himself actually have been behind the leakage.

Johnson - daringly - implied President Trump would make a better job than Theresa May and, again by implication, rounded on Chancellor Philip Hammond, whose Treasury he described as being "basically the heart of Remain".

He also demonstrated there was turmoil in the Cabinet ("I am not going to hide it from you - there is an argument going on").

In short, you are left with the impression that Foreign Secretary Boris believes the Government is making a mess of the negotiations.

Now, there appear to be signs of panic in the Tory ranks. In an unlikely partnership, Remainer and former Home Secretary Amber Rudd has joined forces with Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith in appealing to would-be Tory rebels to support the Prime Minister in the forthcoming Brexit votes in the Commons. There are fears Government defeats could pave the way to the downfall of Mrs May and the possible collapse of the Government, with the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn entering Number 10.

A deeply gloomy outlook for the Conservatives.

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party can scarcely have been more bizarre and preposterous than the G7 summit which has just ended in Canada.

All that appeared to have been achieved was bad feeling among the participants and marvellous stories for the journalists. It certainly did not seem to have achieved much in "running the world", an expression used by President Trump.

He inferred that the whole affair was pointless without the presence of Russia, which had been expelled from the group over the annexation of Crimea. But no one agreed with him - although it would seem that the absence of Russia must have reduced the validity of the meeting.

Indeed, Trump pretty well dominated the whole affair, before leaving early for Singapore and his own summit with the North Korean leader. Throughout, he had virtually ignored Theresa May. The trouble is, full-time politicians do not know how to handle someone who has no political experience, speaks his mind bluntly and who does not give a fig for the niceties of political etiquette. Some of the time was spent by members complaining about the US imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Trump accused the EU of using the USA as a piggy bank and robbing from it. And he warned EU states against trying to retaliate.

And when host Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, described the US tariffs as "insulting", Trump immediately denounced Trudeau as "dishonest and weak".

But Trump had not finished there. Within minutes of the publication of the agreed end-of-summit communique, he withdrew the USA's endorsement of it.

Not exactly an occasion of sweetness and light. Indeed, some participants will be returning home metaphorically battered and covered in bruises.

What better place for a quiet snooze than the House of Lords, with its warm atmosphere, (reasonably) comfortable red benches and the droning of long-winded speechmakers?

And, indeed, quite a few of their lordships have been spotted on television screens happily slumbering during debates.

But all this - plus loud conversations between sedentary peers during speeches - has angered Tory chief whip, Lord Taylor, who has now issued his noble charges with a document inviting them to be better behaved.

Now, Lord Taylor's counterparts in the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties are likely to follow his example and formally rebuke their own members for grossly bad manners.

It's not so much Lords a'leaping as Lords a'sleeping.

Whoever thought the Upper house would be a haven for such selfish misconduct?

Mary Wilson, widow of former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, has died aged 102.

She hated life at Number 10 and once revealed she wore laddered stockings beneath her long skirts at many Downing Street events to express her very private contempt for what she regarded as the ludicrous pomp and flummery of these occasions.

Belfast Telegraph


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