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As I mentioned yesterday, the breakneck speed of politics we all suffered earlier in the year has largely given way to a melancholy dirge of feebleness.
Where we once had fire-and-brimstone rhetoric, we now have bitchy and pernickety remarks. Where we once had the unstoppable force of Brexit meeting the immovable object of British politics, we now have two toddlers having an arm wrestle. Where we once had the imminent threat of political self-immolation, we now just have political impotence.
It’s all rather dull, in truth. Even Gabby Gavin Williamson kept his mouth shut this week, despite potentially being able to sue the government for defamation.
However, it won’t be for long – the European Parliamentary elections will soon put the cat among the pigeons and make things mental again. The likely decimation of the Tory party could, in all honesty, spell the end for the party as we know it. Splinter factions of hardline Brexiteers could leave to either join UKIP or the Brexit Party, or create their own group. Or, moderates could leave and join Change UK or create their own group.
The effects of that on British politics would be nothing short of seismic.
However, in the meantime, us politico-types have to make sense of what’s been happening. Let’s rattle through it and enjoy our weekends, shall we?
We need to enjoy them while we can.
What’s Been The Major Story This Week?
At the time of writing, last week’s Weekly Wrap-Up reported that the local elections were predicted to spell doom and gloom for the Tories. Holy Bejesus on a bicycle were those predictions right.
Over 1,300 Tory councillors lost their seats, largely to Lib Dem, Green or independent candidates. Labour and UKIP also suffered losses, though not half as bad as the Conservatives. These results have struck the fear of God into the two major parties, who have until now been perpetually complacent about their ability to dominate the political landscape. The losses are widely considered to be a precursor to an absolute drubbing at the ballot box for the European elections.
The fallout from the ‘locals’ was actually not quite as spectacular as many thought (hoped) it would be. While many Tories were understandably furious, no heads rolled. Local Conservative councillors who lost seats (and even those who didn’t) went on national TV to say that they will vote for the Brexit Party at the EP elections and betray their beloved party to do so, but suffered no major recriminations.
May took it on the chin, as she has all of the other bajillion sucker punches she’s endured during her premiership.
And What Else?
Speaking of taking it on the chin, on Tuesday, May celebrated the end of the Bank Holiday by resolutely telling the 1922 Committee to shove ‘it’ firmly up their bottoms, with ‘it’ being calls to resign.
She met with Sir Graham Brady, the committee’s chairman, who asked her to spell out exactly what her timetable is to leave, and encouraged her to make it sooner rather than later.
Later that day, a Number 10 spokesman said that she would stick around until September, or until Brexit is resolved.
Then, on Wednesday, there was a slightly strange PMQs – Corbyn couldn’t go fully on the attack because supposedly his party and the Tories were still negotiating a compromise on Brexit (that will likely never be actually found). So instead, the really notable swipe at May came from Andrea Jenkyns, one of her own, Tory, Brexiteer backbenchers, who called for her to resign. Openly, in Parliament.
But nope, May wasn’t to be heckled. She instead said that Brexit was “Not an issue about her,” which was essentially putting all of those calling for her head in a room and chucking a beehive of very angry bees in there with them.
So we’re stuck with May. For now, at least. Maybe the European Parliamentary elections will force her out if (when) the Tories are absolutely annihilated at them, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see her survive until December, when she can be legally challenged with a vote of no-confidence again.
She might even survive that, too.
The last thing of note is a moment to forget for Change UK, and indeed the Remain camp as a whole. Fiona Onasanya, the disgraced Labour MP who was arrested for fraudulent driving offence claims, was recalled due to those very convictions and a by-election for her constituency was called. Change UK, the Greens and the Lib-Dems wanted to join forces to put an independent, non party-affiliated Remainer candidate forward and give them the best possible support they could get.
Instead, the candidate pulled out at the 11th hour.
Gavin Shuker, a Change UK MP, blamed Labour figures for blocking and disrupting the campaign. However, it seems likely that the real reason the candidate pulled out is because Change UK currently looks like it would be unable to organise nap-time in a narcoleptic ward.
And What Next?
The European elections are just a few short weeks away and all parties have now started their election campaigns, so next week will likely be dominated by this. However, whispers are abound that May will try to bring her deal back, again, before we go to the polls.
May God have mercy upon us all.