The last week in British politics has highlighted more than ever the incompetence of our government and how the country is rudderless at one of the most important moments in post-war history.
In the space of a few days, the Prime Minister went from being determined to pass her deal in a third meaningful vote and chastising Parliament, to effectively conceding defeat, admitting that her deal would be unlikely to pass and her party openly talking about replacing her as leader.
Having started the week planning to go to Brussels asking for a short and long extension to Brexit, she then sent a letter to the EU on her intention to ask for only a short extension, saying she could not allow the UK to stay in the EU longer than the end of June. Her ‘people versus Parliament’ speech was reminiscent of a speech from a populist and played to extremists who have sought to brand parliamentarians as ‘traitors’ and have threatened their safety.
But then just hours after her speech, where she supposedly came out fighting to get her deal passed in Parliament, she made a humiliating climb-down, perhaps realising that she needs MPs in order to pass her deal, saying she respects MPs from all sides. And, with her short extension (shortened further by the EU to May 22nd) dependent on her deal passing through Parliament, May then admitted that a third meaningful vote might not even happen if it is unlikely to pass.
It is hardly surprising then that the Conservative Party are in open revolt and are openly talking about who might replace her, sooner rather than later.
The week was one that encapsulated her entire premiership. Having invoked Article 50 without a set plan for negotiation or an end goal, she attempted to put off conflict with her party and with Parliament by pushing decisions on Brexit later and later. She has set unmovable red lines and has remained blinkered to any compromise, especially as it became clear that her deal could not command the support of her own party, let alone her Parliament. And, perhaps worst of all, she has regularly played political games, even throwing away her parliamentary majority in a snap election, and put party over country during a time when the country needs a united front and bipartisan agreement.
At a time when we need a government who can work across both sides of the House and provide certainty and stability for all, we have a government that is effectively leaderless, deeply divided and out of ideas. The blame for this shambles lies squarely at the Prime Minister’s door.