Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May needs to tread carefully, but she is not a dead woman walking

Inside Westminster... with Chris Moncrieff

The Prime Minister sets off on her walking holiday in the Alps with what must be a very bitter taste in her mouth.

When she called the June 8 general election, she firmly believed - as did many people - that it would strengthen her position immeasurably and give the Conservative Party a substantial overall majority in the House of Commons.

After all, at that time, the Tories were wallowing in a 20-point opinion poll lead.

Alas for her, that did not happen. She is in a substantially weakened position - and it shows - and the Tories lost their previous narrow overall majority at Westminster.

The irony is that, while she is politically crippled, Jeremy Corbyn, who she expected to destroy, is in a far stronger position as Labour leader than before the election.

Already some Conservative MPs are demanding that she quit 10 Downing Street by Christmas at the latest. And bets are already being laid on who should be her successor, with Brexit Secretary David Davis as the favourite.

Her situation is not quite so bad, however, as envisaged by the former Tory Chancellor, George Osborne, that she is a "dead woman walking", but it is serious nevertheless. Corbyn and his henchmen are convinced they would win an election hands down if one were called quickly. And they could be right.

But Theresa May is made of sterner stuff than many people realise. If she weathers the present storm - and the signs are that she will - she could regain the confidence of her party and carry on.

She has already shown she will tolerate no trouble from her senior colleagues, warning them: "There is no such thing as an unsackable minister."

That was reminiscent of Harold Wilson, who, when he heard that some of his colleagues were plotting his downfall, declared: "I know what is going on - I am going on." And he did.

And the longer May goes on, the more difficult it becomes for Corbyn. There are already signs of a hard-left campaign to have "moderate" Labour MPs deselected and replaced by militant left-wingers.

That would severely damage Labour if it intensifies.

Even so, Theresa May is in a perilous position. And once she removes her walking boots and returns to Westminster, she has an enormous amount of work to do if she is to stabilise her position.

You may not like him, but Donald Trump is the elected President of the United States and, as such, the effective leader of the western world. And he should be treated as such.

That is why it was so disgraceful for the garrulous Commons Speaker, John Bercow, to ordain (without bothering to consult the House of Lords) that Trump will not be allowed to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall during his expected State visit.

And it was equally discourteous for the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to say they would not be rolling out the red carpet for Trump.

In both cases, these pompous public officials demonstrated rudeness, stupidity and downright mean-mindedness - "qualities" which are not typical of the UK in the slightest.

Perhaps, if this visit does go ahead - and who could blame Trump if he decides not to come? - it would be a good idea to hold it in Cardiff, Edinburgh or Belfast and leave London out in the cold.

The desperately sad saga of the sick child Charlie Gard has taken an ugly turn. Some people have, unbelievably, been making abusive and menacing threats - even death threats - to the staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where the little boy is being cared for.

It defeats me how people can be so cruel as to behave like this towards doctors and nurses who have dedicated their lives to caring for sick children.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has spoken out against it. But what is needed is action. At the earliest opportunity, the Government should crack down hard and introduce long prison sentences for those guilty of this disgraceful conduct.

It was astonishing that no back-bench MPs raised the question of BBC salaries at Prime Minister's question time in the Commons last week, although May did refer to the gender pay gap obliquely in one of her answers.

However, when she read the BBC's report, it must have made the Prime Minister feel as though she were a pauper.

Belfast Telegraph

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