Theresa May could remain as Prime Minister for at least two years. Does Boris Johnson, David Davis or most likely someone we’ve never considered really want the job at the moment ?

The Brexit talks will be long, tiring and are very unlikely to end well. There will be vicious recriminations from both sides in two years’ time. The hard Brexitiers are already expecting betrayal. The open Brexitiers won’t satisfy us Remainers even if they get some compromise on the single market and customs union. Whoever is Prime Minister in March 2019 will not receive the plaudits of a grateful nation but will be blamed as the country expels itself from the European Union in economic uncertainty and mutual recrimination.

So, it looks as if Mrs May will stagger through with the help of her friends from the Democratic Unionist Party. Jim Callaghan survived in minority government for three years in the seventies as did John Major when the Tory Euro rebels made life hell for him. How right Lord Heseltine is, Europe is the cancer at the heart of the Conservative Party.

There is talk of an all-party effort to try and reach consensus on what Britain wants in the Brexit talks. I think it unlikely Labour will enter that trap partly because hard left politicians never like to do deals with Tories and because Labour’s position on Brexit is confused. The party needs to realise that a lot of their new young supporters would prefer to stay in the EU. In these fluid times Kier Starmer, the able Shadow Minister for Exiting the EU should position the party so that if it becomes clear to most people that Brexit isn’t going to work, Labour can say that whilst they respected the 2016 vote, circumstances have changed so much that another vote is needed. This could provide the basis for a popular alliance when the next election comes.


Once again, our first past the post (FPTP) system has thrown up monstrous unfairness with the SDP being generously rewarded with 35 seats for a million votes and the Green Party getting just one for their half million votes.

The Conservatives are the greatest defenders of FPTP saying it gives us stable government. Well that’s been blown out of the water by the 2010 and 2017 results.

The Tories would have won if just 401 more people had voted for them. They lost four seats by less than 31 and another four by less than 250. So, bring on those boundary changes! Remember the constituency boundary map was going to be redrawn for 2020 and would have helped the Tories. An election pundit friend of mine said it was “madness” for the Conservatives to go to the country again on boundaries containing undersized Labour seats.

The problem now is will Mrs May dare propose the changes in next week’s Queen’s Speech or will it be ditched like most of the manifesto.

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The Prime Minister has been called an appeaser for her closeness to Donald Trump. That is a result of this country’s desperate search for new friends now that we are shunning our 27 partners in Europe.

So, while Labour are hurling insults with 1930’s echoes in them at Mrs May, let’s see if the same cap fits on Kier Starmer. He’s the Brexit spokesman for Labour. They’ve been assuring us during the passage of the bill triggering our exit from the EU that, whilst respecting the vote to Leave, they would fight hard for concessions. One of these was to get the government to have a vote in parliament at the end of the negotiations with a view to sending Mrs May back to the negotiating table if MPs found the deal unsatisfactory.

What happened in the Commons on Tuesday was frankly an embarrassment and shows the poor quality of Labour’s front bench. As soon as the government announced there would be a vote, Starmer hailed it as a significant victory. All we needed was for him to hold a piece of paper above his head, Neville Chamberlain style, and the image would have been complete. This is because it rapidly became clear that all the government was offering was approval of the package or an exit from Europe with no deal which few would vote for.

A Labour MP last week, who’s a friend, was gently chiding me last week for my view that there should have been a united front by Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems behind a second referendum. Labour’s way was better I was told. Well it clearly isn’t. Labour are constantly being pushed aside and divided by a Tory government where Brexit extremists are making all the running.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to Claire Perry, the Conservative MP for Devizes. She said in the debate that she felt she was sitting beside jihadists on the Tory benches for whom no Brexit is hard enough. Their view was “be gone you evil Europeans and don’t darken our doors again.”

One can trace the ascent of this extremism in the Tory Party by listening to Ken Clarke, the only Tory to vote against the bill in principal last week. When he entered parliament in 1970, such people were still clinging on to the British Empire and denounced one nation Conservatives like Iain Macleod for giving away the colonies.

For a while they became less significant as Ted Heath took us into the Common Market and then Margaret Thatcher signed up to the Single Market. Soon after that the tide turned with the very same Margaret Thatcher doing a U turn. They then harried John Major into the biggest defeat the Tories had suffered in decades. In opposition, the scepticism grew and back in government they forced a weak David Cameron to allow a referendum with a ludicrous in/out option. Even though it was narrowly carried, they show no respect for that and are now hell bent on a hard Brexit.

The only choice for Labour was to back the Lib Dems clear position of a second referendum but centre left sectarianism triumphed and there is total disarray in the face of a skilful Prime Minister leading her hard line Brexiteers.

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