Theresa May won’t be Prime Minister in December 2018.
Few Prime Ministers have fallen so far and as fast as Theresa May. In the space of a year, she went from all-powerful Thatcher to a beleaguered Major. Like her predecessor, all her supposed master strokes, praised by the media, proved to be huge, self-inflicted errors. Her opting for a hard Brexit in October 2016 drove soft Brexit voters to Labour. Triggering article 50 in March 2017 gave away the UK’s one real piece of leverage in the negotiations. And calling a General Election in June 2017 gave Corbyn the chance to drive a stalemate. Even the much praised idea of putting Boris in the Foreign Office backfired. Instead of being trapped in a Golden Cage, he now bounds around like the proverbial loose cannon he is, plotting, and generally smashing up the quarterdeck.
She now hangs, Ramsay Macdonald like, in office without authority. She stays there, if Tim Shipman is to be believed, only because Boris botched his last June and September coup attempts, and due to Ruth Davidson still considering her ‘options’.
Why won’t May survive in power? First, she has no wide circle of supporters either in Cabinet or party to act as a shock absorber. Any party that must constantly express its support for their leader clearly has its mind of regicide. Her only real ally is Damian Green (exactly). Second, she is trapped, like Gordon Brown, in narrative of failure and can’t catch a break. Third, she presides over a severely dysfunctional Downing Street, if the wholesale exodus of staff is anything to go by. Before the election she headed a regime of terror run by her two chiefs. Now, if this piece still holds, she pervades a ‘remote and grim’ atmosphere. Her staying in power flies in the face of the golden rule of politics: for Prime Ministers, things always get worse.
There is, however, a twist. Though May won’t stay as Prime Minister, the Fixed Term Parliament Act and fear of Corbyn will keep the government in place. Step forward, Prime Minister Rudd.