As expected, Sunday’s cornflakes and toast will have gone down very badly at a number of MPs’ kitchen tables. Perhaps the most indigestion will have experienced at No 10; Mrs May will surely not have enjoyed her breakfast, newspapers and TV viewing.
The individual allegations themselves are ugly, damaging and potentially career ending for MPs and Prime Ministers alike but there is something even worse for Mrs May; three things that makes this whole sorry episode her problem. Firstly. she is the boss and the buck must stop with her. Secondly, she has questions to answer – as does her new Defence Secretary from his time as Chief Whip and PPS to David Cameron, sitting in a ring side seat with unprecedented access to information at Tory politics for many years – about when she first heard about these allegations – we understand she heard about a number of them some time ago and appears to have taken now action, indeed promoting one of those under suspcition despite the concerns being known to the Whips Office. Thirdly, she must explain the dog’s dinner of an approach she has taken to each case of alleged wrong doing. She has made a meal of this. She has made a seven course dinner out of a pan of boiling water. Her handling of it has been – and continues to be – abysmal.
Exhibit A; the inconsistency applied to each case. Some MPs suspended. Some not. Some referred to the Cabinet Office (as in the cases of ministers or former ministers). Some not. Exhibit B; public comments made about some – via her spokesperson and not others. No public statement of principles/approach she we know what she is thinking. Exhibit C: not managing her own bad news. Where is Mrs May? Why is she in hiding? Has she lost her voice again? Mrs May is currently invisible which means she is not in charge, which means that others are making the running or reminding people that she is not. The expenses scandal was a mess but David Cameron got in the front foot and stayed there – you couldn’t move for him on TV and radio. You would be hard-pressed to spot Mrs May at the moment.
Mrs May has long been political toast – a dead woman walking as George Osbourne rightly observed – but her handling of this latest crisis risks not only precipitating her departure, which looked like it would be months not weeks away but is now shuffling into view, very quickly. Her MPs are furious with her over every aspect of her handling of this mess and her appalling error of judgment in appointing Gavin Williamson Defence Secretary. This Prime Minister has shown again and again the she cannot read the public mood; she cannot respond nimbly to a crisis; just doesn’t get it.
She started her leadership by boasting about being a “bloody difficult woman”, implying her bite was worse than her bark. She moves towards the end of it looking like a puppy dog, running around aimlessly, chasing cars.
Photo taken from BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-30588006