Our columnist The Rebel explores the state of the UK governing party and the official opposition after a torrid Easter break.
The Rebel is a leading political figure close to senior politicians in London as well as Cardiff Bay, and will always give readers the inside track on what is being discussed in the corridors of power.
Tory MPs are returning from the Easter break angrier than ever at their leader, the state of the Conservative party, and that Teflon Theresa refuses to stand down.
They know that the party’s official historian, Lord Lexden, has said they are in “greater turmoil” than at any other time than in their 180-year history.
They have tried all sorts of ways to get rid of Theresa and have failed.
At a second meeting of their backbench 1922 executive, MPs voted down a demand by Brexiteers on the committee to change the rules to allow a new no-confidence challenge to her leadership.
However, they called for the woman also known as Mrs Stubborn to clarify her exit plan if she failed to get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons before the European elections next month.
Having won a challenge in December, under existing Conservative party rules she has a year’s grace before she can be challenged again.
Brexiteers on the committee, led by the former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans and Sir Bernard Jenkin, demanded that the rules be changed to allow an earlier challenge given the ignominious defeat of Theresa’s past deals in the House of Commons.
One source said that the committee had voted nine to seven against a rule change, with two abstentions.
It was added that there had been a clear view that “Brexit itself was the main problem stopping a leadership change – Theresa May has said that she is going to go when the Brexit deal is passed and we need to respect that”.
A Brexiteer on the committee said that the pressure on the Prime Minister would not go away and there was potential for a fresh challenge if European elections went ahead next month.
The Brexit deadlock also threatens the UK Government’s three-year spending review, the Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned.
He said that the review would have to begin before MPs broke up for the Summer if it was to be concluded before the end of the year, as promised.
However, ‘spreadsheet Phil’ said that it may be “unwise” to go ahead if it were still unclear when the UK would be leaving the EU and on what terms: “We will keep an open mind as to how the process should unfold as we go through the next few months”.
“If we are going to a full three-year spending review we need to formally start the process before the summer recess, carry it on through the summer and bring it to a conclusion around the time of the autumn budget”.
‘Pressure on the Prime Minister’ means it can’t be ruled out that this whole can of worms will not be reopened, and the Tory bigwigs understand that.
“It remains open to the 1922 Committee to revisit this question should it wish to do so”, Graham Brady said after the meeting of the committee he chairs.
Lord Lexden has called these “unprecedented circumstances”, and described Theresa’s leadership as “disastrous”.
Mind you the official opposition are just as bad.
Labour are in complete meltdown over this anti-Semitism scandal and that only a few complaints have been processed.
Remainer Labour MPs are just as angry with their own leader as Tory MPs are with Teflon Theresa.
One told me: “The Tories are in total chaos and we should be way out in front yet even now the polls aren’t brilliant – Jeremy is an embarrassment when you talk to ordinary voters”.
Everyone realises these Brexit ‘negotiations’ between Labour and the Tories are likely to fail but they don’t want to be seen as the reason.
Labour ‘negotiators’ have supposedly had ‘timetabling’ issues, much to the exasperation of the Tories.
What you are seeing now is manoeuvring because neither party wants to be blamed for pulling the plug.
So it goes on.
If only ‘pulling the plug’ or when to do the spending review, were the only things to worry about – there are small issues to concern our elected politicians like the position of the UK in the world.
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