May vs Tory Brexiteers: an explosion looks inevitable

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

Is the Prime Minister moving inexorably towards breaking point? She remains firmly committed to her controversial Chequers proposals for Brexit, while a number of Tories – including some ministers – are calling on her to abandon her plan.

It is like the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object – a political explosion is now beginning to look inevitable, with all the dire consequences that could generate.

Stoking a mutiny: in July David Davis quit in protest at the PM's Brexit approach, and is now essentially calling for a Cabinet revolt writes Chris Moncrieff

Stoking a mutiny: in July David Davis quit in protest at the PM's Brexit approach, and is now essentially calling for a Cabinet revolt writes Chris Moncrieff

On top of all that, a growing number of Tories are demanding a vote of confidence in her leadership – only a handful short of the number required to force such a vote.

To make matters even worse, David Davis, who resigned as Brexit Secretary over this very issue, is effectively calling for a mutiny of those Cabinet ministers who do not like her proposals.

Meanwhile, the irrepressible Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries has bluntly called on May to quit, and be replaced as interim leader by Davis.

The garrulous Dorries, who can never be accused of mincing her words, has already publicly made clear that she’d like to see Boris Johnson eventually take over her reins permanently.

All this leaves the Prime Minister in a ‘no win’ situation. If she backs off or waters down her Chequers proposals, it will be seen as an act of gross weakness, from which it would be difficult to recover. Or if her Tory opponents get even nastier, then her entire political future could be in jeopardy.

The leading Tory Brexiteers challenging her policies continue to insist that they are attacking those policies and not the individual.

But they must surely realise that if she is defeated on a vote of confidence, it could be curtains for her.

It all crucially depends on what Theresa May brings back from the critical EU summit later this week. That could, to mix the odd metaphor, either save her bacon or cook her goose.

:: So how is Labour faring in dealing with a Conservative Party, at Westminster and beyond, in a state of turbulence and shambolic disarray? For them, it should be a glorious open goal.

But they, too, are engulfed in internal squabbling over the antisemitic issue and the actions of the hard-core left movement, Momentum, which appears to be embarking on a course of culling moderate MPs from constituencies and replacing them with left-wing candidates.

So, what is happening is that Labour are wasting their energies on fighting each other – thus weakening their ability to fight the Tories when they, the Tories, are at their lowest ebb.

The problem is that Jeremy Corbyn appears to be taking little notice of what Momentum is doing, which is hardly surprising because he is hard-left himself.

But Momentum’s actions are surely damaging the party by forcing left-wing majorities on constituency parties and thus, by political force, changing the face of the future parliamentary party.

When Militant tried to infiltrate Labour in the 1980s, then leader Neil Kinnock managed, by superhuman efforts, to eliminate them. But that is not happening today with Momentum – and Labour may pay a high price if their activities are allowed to proceed unchallenged.

They have been warned.

:: The Prime Minister gleefully announced the end to austerity in her much-acclaimed Conservative Party conference speech. The next we heard were reports that judges are to be given a huge rise.

So she’s as good as her word? Well I spoke to a district nurse the other day. She said her pay rise amounted to around 30 pounds a month. Not exactly the end of austerity for her.

:: Experts have expressed alarm at the state of the fabric of the Palace of Westminster, and a multi-billion-pound plan to make the building safe is being drawn up.

But since the problem is supposed to be urgent, why will it still be a few years before the work gets underway? I know it is a huge job to move out the thousands who inhabit the Palace on a daily basis, but if it is as bad as is claimed, why cannot they get the wheels in motion much more quickly?

The place is supposed to be crumbling in parts, so every year that passes unchecked it becomes more dangerous and more expensive to put right. So get a move on!