Theresa May might be one of Britain’s most unpopular Prime Ministers. It is said that many in her Cabinet do not rate her and that senior Tory MPs are rebelling against her insipid attempts at leadership. May has not delivered on the important issues of her time—Brexit, housing, more funding for the NHS and the special relationship with the US, leaving those spaces open for opportunistic Labour challenges. Folks in UK do not believe that May’s social justice ideals are tantamount to a vision and delivery of a global Great Britain. These days, folks think she has kept her position only out of the MPs’ paranoia of a Jeremy Corbyn government.
It is now known that May choreographed the latest Cabinet reshuffle to secure herself the best chance of remaining in power beyond 2019. By curbing the competition, sidelining all those with leadership qualities and potential, May gave herself the advantage. The PM was supported by a threesome of self-interested relative newcomers to politics, who she appointed in positions close to her to avert threats; one of which, Gavin Williamson, Defence Secretary, is her chosen successor, should her personal plan fail.
In today’s world of decisive leadership, May appears passive, with reactions behind the curve. Frustrated by the lack of initiative and action, three Tory intellects have divvied up the issues and are making manoeuvres—Boris Johnson on Brexit and the Special Relationship, Michael Gove on the environment/climate change and animal welfare, Jacob Rees Mogg on Brexit and the Treasury. The question is, are they a team or operating independently?
The 1922 Committee news headlines seem to indicate a leadership challenge is imminent. It was reported that Sir Graham Brady hoped he would not receive more formal demands for a no-confidence vote. Only 48 letters from 15% of Conservative MPs are required to trigger a leadership bid, which the incumbent PM is not eligible for. How many are already on file was not disclosed.
Defence and military capability is the theme of the week, following Chief of the General Staff, Sir Nicholas Carter’s warnings of Russia’s superior military equipment and arsenal of skills. Carter described why Russian people see the West as a threat and how essentially that is UK’s biggest threat. His priorities for the Army and UK joint forces were development of secure communication, UK’s relationship with allies. He also emphasised: “speed of recognition, it’s about speed of decision making and it’s about speed of assembly”. Carter suggested, “We give policymakers the opportunity to exercise with military leaders.” Carter wants the joint forces to be prepared to fight differently on a new battlefield. He called for a major recapitalisation programme and listed specifics. Carter’s message will likely be echoed by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force Chiefs. It is hoped that Gavin Williamson is aiming for lots more cash from the Treasury for the Joint Forces when he secured extra time for the Modernising Defence Programme this week; certainly the threats faced by Britain are being voiced 360 degrees to make the case for increased funding persuasive. This is Williamson’s first real test and the review’s results in June will contribute to the success or failure of any future leadership bid.