Theresa May is in major trouble. Her conceit of listening to the counsel of just two advisers, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, excluding all the experience and expertise of her ministers, has left Britain in a mess. The pompous reinvention of Tory values, the abandonment of Thatcherism and the denials of the existence of Mayism at the party’s manifesto launch proved themselves to be untrue at the ballot box. Mayism was rejected as red Toryism. Her tepid approval of fox hunting in the north of England won her no friends. But it was the hard-working voters, who were no longer going to be allowed to leave their whole home to their children that sealed her fate (the dementia-tax).
Now it has become known that the duo of Timothy and Hill, who operated from the exclusive fourth floor of the Conservative Campaign HQ (CCHQ), prevented Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby and US political adviser Jim Messina from making any decisions after the manifesto launch. Even Philip Hammond, supposedly the Number 2 in charge, was prevented from challenging the Labour manifesto economics. Now that the disgraced duo have exited, the 1922 Committee—the Conservative committee of backbench MPs with considerable influence—has been generous in allowing May to retain her position for the time being. Although it is said May is still accepting Timothy’s advice via WhatsApp. May has appointed her new Cabinet, who have all put on a brave face and endorsed her. Michael Gove—who is, arguably, a key contributor to this mess, as he denied Boris Johnson the Prime Ministership after the EU Referendum last year—wrote a queasy Oped in the Telegraph, justifying May’s retention.
Labour’s social media campaign via Twitter, WhatsApp and Snapchat was galaxies ahead of the Conservatives bland repetitive presence on Facebook; Tory candidates were advised against using Twitter as it was considered an echo chamber for journalists.
Nick Timothy’s alleged voluntary role in the South Thanet election campaign of 2015 has re-emerged, as MP Craig Mackinley’s 2015 election expenses are under investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service. The accounting procedures for local expenses are being questioned; many say that Timothy had a key role in managing that campaign.
Alok Sharma MP has been demoted from looking after Britain’s interests in Asia to Minister for Housing.
According to the Independent newspaper, Jean-Claude Junker nudged May towards a general election with unexpectedly positive results for Brussels. William Hague and politicians from across parties, academics and citizens are insisting on a more collaborative-transitional Brexit. Before any progress can be made, two things must happen. May must establish her authority and the content of the Queen’s speech must be agreed. At the time of writing, both are in the hands of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), hands who not everyone is comfortable with. Former PM John Major put forward a convincing argument that any association with a Northern Ireland party would compromise Westminster’s position in the Good Friday Peace Agreement. In the event of any future trouble in Ireland, Westminster would not be an independent broker if there was a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP. “Confidence” means the DUP would support critical bills in the House of Commons and “supply” means the government will supply whatever has been agreed. Herein lies the crux: the DUP wants heavy financial investment, but is also reportedly looking for a change in the electoral law applied to Ireland, forbidding overseas donations. This would adversely affect the Sinn Féin party.
Meanwhile, UK businesses are suffering. They are having to make daily decisions during this period of uncertainty, with a new inflation rate of 2.9%. A phenomenal loss of jobs is predicted, as businesses move to Dublin, Frankfurt and Krakow. Consequently Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs income will plummet.
On Wednesday, the Conservative Campaign HQ circulated a candidates’ application invitation, less than a week after the election result; this can only suggest an election is in the offing. This means that DUP conversations are nowhere near satisfactory, The Queen’s speech will be delayed and Parliament may remain in recess till September, giving plenty of time for a leadership campaign over the summer holidays. Under these circumstances, it will be interesting to see how long Sir Patrick McLoughlin remains Tory Party chairman. For a former miner, he showed little connect with the working class and appeared subservient to No 10.
The closed circle of influence of the May coterie has shown that arrogance does not pay. Critics are saying that the Prime Minister is too vain, often inappropriately dressed for the occasion. Now she is a hostage of her Cabinet. They have not yet changed the leader, but they have changed how she will work. After all, Sir Humphrey Appleby said, “To stab someone on the back you have to get behind them.”