Theresa May is just a week and a bit from another Tory Conference. Who could have imagined after her disastrous election followed by the dismal Tory Coughference of 2017, she would still be leader?
The divided Tory Party cannot decide what to do. Factions are paralysed because of old animosities and personal ambitions. May’s collapsing ‘Ottoman’ rule has been so weak and ineffective that even the fruitiest of loops, such as Dominic Grieve, are able to have a minor following and cannot be faced down. Even if May wanted to. Which she doesn’t.
May is still leader only because no strong candidate has emerged to replace her. And no strong candidate is willing to take the risk of deposing her.
So the weak and wobbly reign continues into its third year. The rebels are trying to oust her without a fight. Without any unpleasantness. They just hope she will give up and resign. Seeing as how her only virtue is stubbornness, that seems unlikely.
The Tory rebels really need to decide if they want to back her or sack her. Their power to do away with her is limited. The numbers are not there. They might have 50 MPs who want Chequers abandoned. But not the 160 they need to ensure that calling a leadership challenge means she will be fall.
But that is the risk. That is the challenge. That is the gamble. Nothing is certain.
But if they believe she should no longer be leader, then they must ask themselves how that can happen if they will not act.
Mogg damns her with faint praise each week. Johnson attacks her ‘EU-Strategy’ in his newspaper column. Without quite bringing himself to demand she drops the ‘Robbins Plan’ or face him in hustings combat. The conference is almost here. The rebels are waiting to judge the mood. To see if enough undecideds will agree to support a successful opening move against her.
They do not have as much time as they think. Any day now the EU will agree to a modified Chequers. Modified favourably towards them, naturally. They know that they won’t get a better offer from anyone other than this Heath MKII supplicant proposal. So they will agree. And agree quite soon.
So, Mr Johnson.
You are the sole challenger. No one else comes close to having your popularity with Tory members. Even if it is diminished it is still far more than the dullards Rudd or Hammond could ever hope to have.
No one else can trigger a credible leadership bid. No one else can stop her. Blairite Labour MPs now curse their own timidity in not taking out Corbyn before he took full control of the party. The dithered and made half hearted noises and had pathetically plans to try and convince Corbyn to leave of his own accord. The Eagle-Owen challenge being a particularly inept and divided one. Those same Blairite MPs curse that their attempts to remove Brown were not taken until far far too late in the day. When it was obvious to all except Brown himself that the election was lost. And so many of the MPs who would have cheerfully backed a move to remove Brown before, felt it was far too late to try now as they would lose the election anyway.
Time is not on your side. And although an attempt might fail, it is better to have tried, before the Chequers plan passes in Parliament. Than wait for higher numbers after.
So, Mr Johnson.
As this is GP, here is some music to help you decide.
1980s ELO has a reworked message for you to heed.