Meanwhile, back in Blighty, we await the Party Conferences in September and early October to see if Mrs May faces a challenge from Michael Gove MP (the Murdoch nominee). We could pick anyone of six other Tory MPs currently being touted including Jacob Rees-Mogg MP who was born in the late 17th century. The problem the Prime Minister has is, no one, not even her closest allies, believe she will lead her party at the next general election due in 2022. Her polling figures are the worst in history.
So, the GOM (Grand Old Men; it is always men) of the Tory party will decide whether to cut her lose before the Brexit talks develop much further or wait until the results are published and voted on in Parliament. If the latter, this is likely to be sometime before Easter, 2019. I am not sure the party can continue to haemorrhage support for another eighteen months or so. Whilst we wait for black or white smoke to appear from the GOM we must take stock of the awfulness of the Brexit discussions to date. We have become the laughing stock of the entire western world. We are fast becoming just Little Englanders.
On my most recent trip to New York and Washington (DC), friends, journalists and academics were telling me that the world has already moved on and has made the transition that the UK will be a lesser power. At the UNO, there is open talk that India will seek to replace the UK in the Security Council and has sufficient votes (if it came to it). My bet is that India will be joined by Germany. Whither the UK? Well, we cannot expect much support from the other veto nations: USA, China, France or Russia. Leaving aside how long it takes to read the mind of President Trump, it is unlikely that China, France or Russia will support us.
Brexit is the worst decision the nation has made since Suez in 1956 when Prime Minister Eden thought Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian President, to be another version of Benito Mussolini. President Nasser sunk ships to block the Canal and our poorly prepared Army and Navy returned home with their tails between their legs. It was made worse by a US warship shooting across the bows of a British warship. Eden resigned to be replaced by the towering Harold Macmillan. Should May resign there is no towering of any description left in the Tory locker.
The Tory dilemma is not offset by there being a competent opposition despite the favourable media performance of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader. Recent data suggests at least twelve Labour MPs in marginal seats increased their majority because of support for their local NHS hospitals (they were earmarked for closure). All fine and dandy but what is the Labour party’s policy on the future of the NHS and care packages for the elderly? We do not know despite an election two months ago. We all know how stretched the NHS is but which party will reform its antiquated practices?
Worse, the Labour Party suggested that they would offer free tuition fees for students and over the past few months they have been fudging how they intend to cost that decision. As I suggested in a letter in The Guardian, the first thing any political party should ask is are all our universities centres of academic excellence? Clearly they are not. But not a single politician will suggest a solution.
The Tories in private are seething about Labour’s “promise” over tuition fees made during the latter part of the election. Seething because another set of data shows that 900,000 students registered to vote on the last but one day of registration. Of course, they did not all vote Labour, but Labour did particularly well in university seats. The Tories failed to remember that they had changed the whole way we registered to vote for the 2015 General Election disenfranchising millions of students in the process.
This is a tough time for the nation. This is a tough time for the world. The only leader of any class is Angela Merkel. We must hope she is re-elected on 24th September 2017.