After the post-General election dust had settled, observers surveyed the wreckage of the Tories’ campaign, and those of more honest opinion concluded that the imperial progress of Empress Theresa was well and truly bust. The Blue Team had failed to reach the win line, so the first objective of the campaign, to give Ms May a strengthened hand in Brexit negotiations, was in tatters. But things were about to get a lot worse.
Realising that no other mainland British parties would give the Tories the time of day, let alone work with them, they reached out to the DUP in Northern Ireland. That’s as in the DUP which has significant previous in its contacts with unionist paramilitary groups. And after running a campaign which relied on smearing the Labour leader as a terrorist sympathiser. And then it got worse still.
The Tories’ result was only achieved after the party won several seats in Scotland, which brings two problems with it. One, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who is gay, has concerns about the DUP, not least because of the latter’s views on same-sex marriage. And two, there are some laws the Scots Tories cannot vote on, because of the English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) concept, introduced by … the Tories.
And then it got even worse, as both of Theresa May’s closest advisors quit today. Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill both left within an hour of one another. There was brief joy that both Rasputin and Lady Macbeth had departed. But not Ms May; she was staying put. That realisation brought the curtain of gloom down on Tory MPs as they realised she may well lead them not just through Brexit, but into another General Election.
Could it get even worse? It certainly could: after Ms May had apparently given Ms Davidson “assurances” on the presence of the DUP, ITV political editor Robert Peston took to Twitter to tell “Chief whip Gavin Williamson has been sent to Belfast by @theresa_may to negotiate formal coalition with DUP”. Actually, Peston had told in the linked Facebook post that formal coalition was only an option - but it appeared to be the preferred one.
That did not go down at all well with the likes of Iain Dale, a former Tory PPC: “If this is true, it is a very very big deal indeed. A very very bad development and unnecessary”. Dale, who is gay and in a civil partnership, will not need reminding of the DUP’s previous on intolerance, homophobia - and the rest. It is as if we had a Prime Minister who was unable to make rational decisions, but very good at making bad ones.
She could of course just have the Queen’s Speech put together and dare the opposition to vote it down. But right now, a PM described as “alone and friendless” by a former advisor, and paralysed by the fear of making another mistake, might not even be able to do that. On top of that, for those who remember that far back, she set the Brexit clock ticking before calling the election. So if she doesn’t do some decision making soon, we’re stuffed.
The wheels have come off the May wagon. This is now a dead premiership walking.