Amid Tory chaos, May seems to be a beacon of stability

Morning View
Morning View

It is hard to think of any time in the last half century when the Labour and Conservative parties have been simultaneously in so much turmoil. The Labour Party meltdown of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is agonising to watch, even for opponents of that party.

He has been subject to abject humiliation.

The Conservative Party ought in theory to be in triumph.

It won last year’s general election with an unexpected overall majority and is facing as its opposition the Corbyn chaos and the annihilation of the Liberal Democrats.

But the Tories are also in chaos. The victory led to the EU referendum, which it is said David Cameron never wanted, and probably never thought he would be in a position to call.

So while most senior Tories said that they were open to Brexit, many of the most powerful of them were not in fact at all happy at the prospect of an EU withdrawal, which has been the verdict of the referendum.

This in theory should have led to the party leadership passing to Boris Johnson, as standard bearer for Brexit. He had enemies in the Tory parliamentary party, but so too did Winston Churchill, who was swept into Downing Street after his opposition to appeasement of the Nazis was vindicated by events.

For all his popularity with the public, Boris has always cut a shambolic figure, albeit a highly intelligent one. His flair allied to Michael Gove’s intellectualism was seen as the ‘dream team’ for the Tories. All that collapsed yesterday, with Mr Gove explaining that he no longer trusted the judgment of Boris and putting himself forward as leader.

This is a spectacular sequence. Mr Cameron is ruined, George Osborne seems to be ruined, Boris is now ruined, and Mr Gove will struggle from his close association with someone he has now so brutally abandoned.

Theresa May has seemed like a beacon of stability amidst carnage. She supported Remain but in a low key way, and has made clear that Brexit must now happen.

The next Tory leader is a matter for that party. But the UK, it seems, would be in safe hands with Ms May at the helm.