Theresa May (or Mayhem, given the chaos that surrounds her) usually tries to channel Margaret Thatcher, but after her and her party’s drubbing by Jeremy Corbyn in today’s PMQs and by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry over her EU negotiating stance, it seems she’s now switched to channelling her immediate predecessor, David Cameron.
Ms May has already thrown away her most significant bargaining chip in the impending negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU, by naming a deadline for the triggering of ‘Article 50’ (the official notice by Britain that starts the countdown to a formal exit 2 years later) and everyone and his uncle knows that there’s no way the ‘have your cake and eat it’ option of retaining free access to the EU market while restricting freedom of movement is achievable. Why should the EU grant better terms to a country dumping it than to its continuing members?
So, Mrs ‘Old Mother Hubbard’ May’s cupboard is pretty bare. If she accepts the ending of free access and cripples the UK’s economy, she’ll be branded forever as the PM who did her best to turn us into a 3rd-world nation; if she accepts freedom of movement, every Blukip idiot in her own party will be training their political crosshairs on her forehead and her party will, once again, haemorrhage votes to the purple version of the rabid right.
She therefore appears to be copying David Cameron’s ‘tactic’ (for want of a better word) of not actually saying what her ‘red lines’ or even aspirations are for the coming negotiations – in the hope that any scrap of spin she can eke from them can be painted as a win – ‘what we wanted all along!’
To use her own, gurning attempt at mockery from an earlier PMQs against her:
ReMIND you of anyone?
Well, it all turned out so well when Cameron did it, so what’s the worst that could happen?
Fortunately for all of us, she’s now facing a battle-hardened Corbyn with an excellent front bench and supportive (or at least cowed) backbenchers behind.
And as he showed today in PMQ’s, he and his party are in no mood to let her squirm off the hook via shifty, prevaricating answers or pathetic attempts at humour in the hope of diverting attention.
This will be her downfall. Can’t come soon enough.