For the sake of party and country Theresa May should resign immediately

Theresa May is an embarrassment to the Conservative Party and to the country. She has to go immediately.

She has run the most disastrous Conservative campaign since Ted Heath lost the “Who Governs Britain” election of February 1974, and probably worse even than that. Every decision she took during the campaign turned out to be a misjudgement, and she managed to lose a lead of 20% in just seven weeks of campaigning. Her incompetence alone is breath-taking.

She didn’t need to have an election at all and she certainly didn’t need to have it shortly after issuing the Article 50 notification, thereby guaranteeing a delay of weeks and risking a delay of months in getting the strictly time-limited Brexit negotiations under way. The chaotic election result may well now mean that nothing useful can be done for months.

She has cemented her already growing reputation for untrustworthiness. Many lawyers were already suspicious after her (in)famous 2011 Conference speech, in which (amongst other things) she claimed that the Human Rights Act had to be repealed because a judge hearing an appeal against deportation had had regard to a man’s ownership of a pet cat. She told a half-truth for a round of applause.

Many others found it curious that she should have opposed Brexit when it looked like Remain would win the referendum, only to become its most enthusiastic supporter once Leave actually did so. The Vicar’s daughter of Maidenhead could give lessons in political opportunism to the Vicar of Bray (which, appropriately enough, is a charming village in her Maidenhead constituency).

She promised not to have an election, then had one anyway.

She pretended that her “dementia tax” cap was a “clarification” of policy, when it was obvious to everyone that it was a change.

A reputation for trustworthiness is hard to gain. It is easily lost. Lies and half-truths have tumbled out of her mouth like brown water from a cheap civic fountain. It is impossible to see how anyone can ever trust her pronouncements on anything ever again.

She has cemented an already growing reputation for weakness with the reversal of her “dementia tax” proposals as soon as they came under attack. In an otherwise rather feeble performance from both interviewer and interviewee Jeremy Paxman struck home with his jibe that she was a “blowhard who flinched at the first sound of gunfire.”

She has cemented a reputation for cowardice after she refused to take on Jeremy Corbyn in debate, particularly after she allowed the recently bereaved Amber Rudd to stand in on her behalf. In fact this reputation may be a little unfair: her famous speech to the Police Federation, received in stony silence, must have taken a degree of courage. Unfortunately her excuse for not debating with the Labour leader – that she preferred to be out meeting “ordinary people” – was so risible that it merely reinforced her reputation for untrustworthiness.

Incompetence, untrustworthiness, weakness and possibly cowardice: any of these would be a serious personality flaw. Together they should spell political oblivion. As she chose to fight the campaign largely on the issue of her personality one needs to add a complete absence of self-awareness to that list of faults.

She allowed the Labour Party to get away with, and in fact to do rather well, with the most left wing manifesto since 1983.

For some reason she thought that simply repeating the same empty slogans could serve as the answer to every question, and that they would substitute for argument and debate. That was yet another insult to the electorate’s intelligence, and it also meant that Labour Party were given an almost completely free hand to promote a fairy-tale manifesto.

Not once did she make the case for lower taxes as a good in itself. Not once did she challenge Labour’s assumption that you can simply raise taxes to increase revenue without taking into account that raising taxes suppresses economic activity, drives rich people abroad, leads to increased tax evasion and as a result often produces less revenue than lowering them.

She allowed the campaign to be cluttered with unpopular fringe projects

There may be a lot wrong with the hunting ban, but the fact is that restoring hunting with hounds is not a popular cause. It has always been treated as a matter of conscience rather than party politics. Why drag the party into a campaign to restore fox-hunting?

Why include a commitment to relax the ban on the sale of ivory, allowing the Conservatives to be perceived as the anti-elephant party? By what near-insane thought process could anyone possibly have concluded that killing more elephants was a vote winner? Was there a good ecological reason for opposing a ban on ivory sales? If so, we never heard it articulated, and so the Conservatives were portrayed as elephant-killers: that’s a hard sell with the young.

Her “confidence and supply” deal with the Democratic Unionists is a Faustian pact that has begun with hypocrisy and could well end in catastrophe.

She announced during the campaign that if she lost 6 seats Jeremy Corbyn would become the Prime Minister of a “coalition of chaos” with the Scottish Nationalists. It was a disingenuous dishonest claim when she made it – patently, losing just 6 seats was never going to let Corbyn into Downing Street. She lost more than double that and she is still there, and Jeremy Corbyn is not Prime Minister.

Perhaps even worse than the dishonesty, she is now herself entering into just such a “coalition of chaos”, the only difference being that she is doing so with the DUP rather than the SNP. So we can add hypocrisy to her list of personal failings.

In fact, coming to an arrangement with the DUP is even more undesirable than would be a Labour coalition with the Scottish Nationalists. (Let’s leave on one side the possible past association of some members of the DUP with loyalist terrorists, because if you don’t leave that sort of thing on one side it becomes very difficult to talk to lots of Ulster politicians). Scotland at least has a robust Parliament and Executive.

Northern Ireland’s political settlement, on the other hand, is currently teetering on the edge of collapse. If that is to be prevented, somehow the DUP and Sinn Fein need to reach an agreement, and they probably need to be encouraged and cajoled into doing so. If the British Government is in a formal arrangement with the DUP that will, to put it mildly, greatly complicate the process. How can the Northern Ireland Minister possibly appear to be neutral in any negotiations? How can the British Government put any pressure on the DUP to compromise, without the risk that the DUP will then bring that Government down? In fact they will probably do so anyway, and at a time of their own, not Theresa May’s, choosing.

Does it really make sense to enter into an arrangement which makes any potential crisis in Northern Ireland even more difficult to deal with? We should of course remember – Mrs May can certainly remember – that the words “crisis in Northern Ireland” used to be a euphemism for bombings, murders and knee-cappings. To risk peace in Northern Ireland for the sake of this tawdry deal strikes me as the very opposite of statesmanship.

And it gets worse. Article 1 (v) of the Good Friday Agreement commits the “sovereign government” to exercise its power with “rigorous impartiality.”  Only by quibbling over the precise meaning of “sovereign government” can a deal between the DUP and the sovereign government in Westminster be understood as anything other than a breach of the Good Friday Agreement.  The spirit of the agreement is abundantly clear: Britain is meant to be impartial between the Northern Ireland parties. It is not acceptable to be Perfidious Albion just to let a broken Prime Minister stagger on for a few more months.  By even contemplating this deal Mrs May is playing with a blow-torch in a petrol station.

Of course government must go on, but far better to govern as a minority for a few months before the inevitable election than to attempt the impossible task of governing in the national interest while in hock to a party whose values are very different to those of the great mass of the British people.

And of course the DUP’s policies on abortion and gay marriage are hardly likely to help the Conservative Party’s attempts to win over younger voters who chose to vote for Corbyn. I would guess that they strike most people under the age of 45, and many much older people too, as ridiculous at best and plain nasty at worst. It’s a curious alliance to be made by a woman who, long ago now, announced that the Conservatives were regarded as “the nasty party.”

The deal is a grotesque strategic misjudgement, and the Conservative Party will pay heavily for it.

Many of my instincts are conservative, and my vote in the past has quite often been Conservative. Many years ago I was even, briefly, a Party member. I am the sort of floating voter that the Conservatives need if they are to win elections. I want a free and tolerant society, with taxes kept as low as possible and government interference in everyday life kept to a minimum. They are values that the Conservative party once bravely, and successfully, championed. It has lost sight of them under its current charmless, narrow-minded, incompetent, untrustworthy, and hypocritical leader.

Why exactly are we meant to trust someone with these characteristics to negotiate a good Brexit deal?

In less than a year Theresa May’s leadership has proved a disaster. She must go immediately or she will lead her party to oblivion and the country to catastrophe.

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Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

19 thoughts on “For the sake of party and country Theresa May should resign immediately”

  1. I have written similar thoughts over the past 4 weeks in my local newspaper. Of course, then I didn’t foresee the DUP alliance as a possibility. I was rather hoping Ruth D, leader of the Scottish Conservatives would stand as an MP as she has made the Tory brand acceptable North of the border. I suggest she (via the Scottish MPs)is going to be a rather large thorn in May’s side over the DUP connection and because of any idea of a ‘hard’ Brexit.

    It is difficult to know who would replace her which any sense of credibility. Rees-Mugg (popular but an anachronism)? David Davies? Liam Fox? Amber Rudd? All tarred with May’s brush.

    I give May weeks not months.

  2. Matthew, we are as you know, politically poles apart, but it is heartening to see someone of your integrity and judgement speaking out so forcefully and perceptively. This issue really transcends political allegiance. May is now a very real threat to peace and security in the UK, by virtue of the proposed deal with DUP. I do not have a ready answer, but one must be found, and soon.

  3. The Conservatives were the most successful party (in seats and votes) in GB as the DUP was in NI. It’s the least worst option.

    It’s a lot better than a minority government of a Labour Party led by a man with a horrible record vis-a-vis appeasement of Sinn Fein/IRA and Hamas and parties such as SNP and PC which want to destroy the UK.

    We are where we are, and Theresa May must plough her lonely and difficult furrow.

  4. “She told a half-truth for a round of applause.”

    This would be the half truth that an immigrant wasn’t given leave to remain because he had a family here by the name of Tiddles (not the cat’s real name).

    Which no one actually claimed.

    But because he had a longstanding family relationship as evidenced by the longterm shared ownership of said cat!

    This myth seems to have been created by the immigrant’s (presumably human rights) lawyer who insists that the case had nothing to do with human rights or cats, despite the fact that presumably he is the one who not only introduced the cat in evidence, but dwelt on it in “too much detail”!

  5. Most of us die-hard conservatives are shocked to the core, that the PM has created such woes, all of her own making, and is clinging to power, making the party look feeble.

    Perhaps she’d be more at home as the Steward of the Manor of Northstead?

    While I don’t support Mr Corbyn, the country must be governed by a strong leader, and either should be allowed to “try” and form a minority government, or else we have another general election, before the summer recess

  6. Well said Matthew. The Empress with no clothes has been well and truly exposed for what she is. Ironically her ‘dementia tax’ was one the better policies in being at least an attempt to paper over the growing and portentous divide in fairness between the generations which the Corbyn upsurge reflects. I don’t think it was unpopular with ‘pensioners’ but their middle-aged children looking to inherit windfalls without responsibility – it’s yet another aspect of our ‘free money’ society that has evolved.

    This social and (selectively) generation divide is also partly responsible for the abuse of the criminal and civil justice systems in ramping up unfounded abuse claims -‘free money’ for the property windfall excluded.

    Rather than tackling this at its core the Government, and the courts, have successively and continually pandered to self-ordained ‘victims’ and their representatives in the name of ‘justice and fairness’ when the opposite it really the case.

    We are now in such a mess politically (and probably economically as a consequence) that it’s hard to see how any leader could steer us back into reality with authority. Certainly, the prospect of Watson and Starmer as lead policy makers in in Corbyn’s Labour gives no hope for a rebalancing of the criminal and civil justice systems in this respect.

    May must go. But does the Tory party have any prospective leader (other than perhaps Gove who is unelectable) who could turn things round?

    If there were a sound choice in the offing from any party I’d happily dump Brexit. Boris might galvanise – but would he make the right calls – and if so, crucially – carry his party with him?

    1. Yes, it’s a great shame that Gove seems to be unelectable. Even though he’s wrong on Brexit, as a Top Leaver he’d have the authority to make sensible compromises. He’s also very polite.

  7. Excellent article again and thanks. However, you have fallen for the knee-jerk conclusion.
    May will (have to) hang on a bit longer to 1) prevent another risky election and 2) Brexit.
    And in my opinion the fallout of limping on will be so damaging that it will be a popcorn moment for Labour – they can sit back and enjoy the inevitable need for a new election, and a Labour Govt.

  8. The result of the Election has put a question mark over how Mrs May can possibly negotiate and run the government with such a tiny and fragile majority.

    It seems to me that while I don’t like the thought of leaving the EU, nearly all politicians accept the verdict of the Referendum. So would there be a possibility the main parties take the Brexit negotiations out of Party Politics, if Ken Clarke was joined by Kier Starmer, with Nick Clegg the former MEP and an experienced EU negotiator plus Angus Robertson came together to head up the UK team.

    It would take out the heat and perhaps come up with a Brexit, but one that the EU and Parliament might achieve and accept. There would be trouble from the ‘head bangers’ but we might just stop the disaster of ‘no deal’

  9. Yes, quite right. But I’ve never understood the Conservative purported philosophy of minimal interference in everyday life when they have interfered in a ludicrously and incompetent way with what is taught in schools, imposed targets on the police, interfered with the health service and probation and the courts service. Oh, wait a minute, they’re all part of the public sector. So much for principles then.

  10. I agree with you Matthew in terms of your analysis on May, although her resignation doesn’t seem like it would improve the situation to me. And as I’m sure we both agree, this is not a good situation we are in.
    However when it comes to the potential coalition I am left wondering where the DUP protest was in 2010 when Gordon Brown tried to do a deal with them, or 2015 with Ed Miliband tried the same thing?

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