Theresa May's leadership over?

There are doubts over whether she will see through Brexit

Independent

Theresa May's ability to deliver Brexit in doubt amid growing threat to her leadership

Theresa May's ability to deliver Brexit is in doubt amid a growing threat to her leadership and concerns over whether she still has the political clout to govern.

Ms May must this week renew the drive to push her EU withdrawal Bill through the House of Commons, with Tory MPs who backed Remain in the referendum threatening to join forces with Jeremy Corbyn's party to impose changes.

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Theresa May has been weak yet stable since the election - but that could be about to change

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Political campaigns are known for their oft-repeated slogans and gimmicks, in which politicians aim to capture the imaginations of the voters. Some pay off, others come back to haunt their authors. You cannot kill an idea - especially when it is an awful one.

Whether it is the Ed-Stone from the 2015 General Election campaign, where former Labour leader literally had his pledges written in stone to much derision, or the £350 million-a-week for the NHS after Brexit promise paraded around on a bus, they have been unforgettable for the wrong reasons.

Theresa May's robotic catchphrase from her disastrous snap general election "strong and stable leadership" is an example of this. The prime minister thought that by delivering the phrase ad nauseam on the campaign trail, the public would hear it so many times, they would begin to believe it. Voters had heard her utter the words - but they did not believe them. Instead of being an election tool, "strong and stable leadership" became a subject of ridicule, and Mrs May's own creation was used against her.

With the Conservatives losing MPs in the general election, and their majority with them, the prime minister appeared to be offering the antithesis of the campaign promise - she is not strong and stable, she is weak and wobbly. In truth, in the months following the election, her leadership has been an amalgamation of the two - Mrs May has been weak and stable.

There has been no appetite for a leadership contest among Tories, despite the party being undermined under Mrs May's guidance. However, there has been no reprieve, or any victories, for the prime minister since the ill-conceived election in June.

She has experienced cabinet splits over Brexit, and now she is plighted by cabinet departures. Defence secretary Michael Fallon resigned from his role over a sexual harassment scandal, and international development Priti Patel has left following her relations with Israel. Her de facto deputy Damien Green is fending off sexual misconduct claims of his own, and foreign secretary Boris Johnson's most recent blunder could affect the prison sentence of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, with fears that she could be punished further by the Iranian regime.

The Economist argues that her premiership is turning into "a tragedy of small disasters, punctuated by big disasters, punctuated by even bigger disasters". A kind assessment of Mrs May's recent experiences, they argue, is that she is a "victim of terrible misfortune. A less charitable view is that "she is the victim of her own appalling misjudgments".

Her position is "untenable", according to the Guardian's Matthew d'Ancona, and yet she is unable to see the obvious. While the government is in paralysis, fearing and doing everything in their power to prevent the ascent of Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, the Tories' worst enemy is "the stultified inertia of their own government, and its leaden inability to see how unbelievably awful it is".

For those who oppose Mrs May and the Tories, the Evening Standard argues that the champagne corks should not be popped yet - as the hangover from the collapse will be brutal. "Even as we rage against the dunderheads who drove our bus towards the cliff-edge," the Standard's Sam Leith writes, "it does bear noting with a quiet cough that we are all still passengers on the bus."

Since the disastrous general election, Theresa May has only fulfilled one half of her campaign slogan. She is not strong and stable, but the prime minister has somehow managed to be weak and stable. However, with her Cabinet collapsing and confidence in her leadership falling to new lows, Mrs May is looking weak and wobbly - and finally ready to topple.

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