Opinion

Are the 200 really ready to sign the death warrant of the Conservative Party?

3 min read

13 December 2018

Real Business columnist The City Grump wonders why 200 MPs are still so willing to follow prime minister Theresa May after her numerous mishaps.

In 1990 the greatest post war leader of the Tory Party resigned after 40.9% of her MPs voted against her. Some 28 years later the worst leader of said party has 36.9% vote against and chooses to remain.

Margaret Thatcher had the intelligence and honour to understand she could no longer carry on. Prime minister Theresa May possesses neither of these qualities. The roll-call of her dishonour is terrible:

  • She called a general election and fought a campaign without allowing her senior colleagues to campaign up and down the country 24/7.
  • Her attempt to lay down red lines in her Lancaster House Brexit speech rapidly fizzled out as she conceded item after item to Brussels.
  • She put the negotiating cart before the horse by starting immediately agreeing payment terms to the EU.
  • She fell straight into the Brussels trap of allowing the Northern Irish tail to wag her negotiating dog.
  • She produced a withdrawal “agreement” that was so bad it achieved the unique feat of uniting Leavers and Remainers in condemnation of it.
  • Unlike at the time of the last general election when they could have had a positive effect she then sent her ministers out into the country to sell her deal.
  • 24 hours later she made her colleagues look complete idiots by running away from the much trumpeted parliamentary vote thus even earning herself a spectacular humiliation at the hands of the long tarnished Speaker of the House

This is failure on an epic scale for all to see.

Despite this, 200 of her MPs – presumably out of an unappetising mix of fear and some sense of loyalty – asked her to carry on in yesterday’s hastily called confidence vote.

Can it really be that no one of her senior members in the 200 has the gumption in the next few days to insist that the Maybot must quit?

For if they continue to attempt to prop her up, make no mistake at all, they are signing up to the death warrant of the Tory Party.

I leave it to the words of Robin Harris, the author of The Conservative Party : A History, writing in yesterday’s Telegraph:

“Yet it is very difficult to shift public impressions. The truth is that the party has allowed Mrs May to demean Britain.

“Every day she stays in office, announcing and then pulling parliamentary votes, oscillating between grubby threats and pleas for understanding, selfishly sending her colleagues out to the media to defend what she has already privately decided to concede.

“All the while she’s traipsing around Europe like some pitiful, but unpitied beggar rather than the leader of a great and powerful nation-every such day is another day of national humiliation for which the Conservatives can expect to be punished. Who now is going to stop it?”