So the handbags between Boris Johnson and Liam Fox have begun sooner than most expected. Fox, predictably, is trying to grab some FCO land, claiming that he needs it in order to do his job properly (which may actually have a scintilla of truth about it), while Boris Johnson, equally predictably, is resisting all attempts to shrink his remit (against all odds, given the way that the Fox and Davis ministries have been set up).
I use the word predictably above because this is what any reasonable individual would have expected to happen if you put BoJo, David Davis and Liam Fox in a bag and then figured they would work together nicely. Which begs the question of May: what exactly was she expecting to happen when she appointed those three?
Some pundits have suggested that she wants to sabotage Brexit. Others have said she realised it was an impossible task and thought she would let the Three Stooges “own it” in order to shield herself from blame when it inevitably went tits up. Others have taken that scenario and then spun it round to suggest that she as a Remainer thought that perhaps the Leavers had some clue about the way out of this conundrum and thus appointed them all in earnest.
Meanwhile, Number 10 is still pumping out the idea that Article 50 will be triggered early 2017. Take away all the speculation about why May appointed the BoJo/Davis/Fox trio of doom and then look at what it actually means in concrete terms (basically, scenario three in the paragraph above): if we take the prime minister at her word, she will trigger a two year exit process from the European Union early next year in the hopes that those three guys manage not to totally ruin the future of the country during that time period. Uh oh.
In other words, speculation has been rife about what May’s plans actually are in relation to Brexit given that what she appears to be saying and doing (and appointing) makes no apparent sense. But what if everything she is doing is really just to be taken at face value? What if BoDavisFoxJo really are going to decide the future of the entire nation?
I think I’m going to spend the rest of the summer believing that the prime minster actually has a master plan for how we emerge from this mess relatively unscathed that does not involve trusting Boris Johnson and/or Liam Fox with anything actually important when the time comes. Time will tell whether that turns out to be delusional or not.
Susie Atherton says
I have often thought Theresa May is working on the basis that if Fox, Bojo and Davis cannot come up with a coherent plan which will benefit the country, she will stop Brexit and then she can shield herself from this as she has placed the responsibility firmly with them. Unless of course, if she does invoke Article 50 next year, could this be out of some stubborn belief that this is what the country still wants? She has changed her mind before as Home Secretary so I remain hopeful that she just isn’t that sort of leader, but it seems the Tory party have a history of ousting leaders who keep us in the EU. I wonder if this will become a 2020 manifesto pledge?
Liz Thomson says
I’m trying to figure out exactly the same thing. Either May is incredibly stupid or incredibly strategic. If she’s just waiting for them to fuck up and then announces that we tried Brexit and it won’t work that would be wonderful. I still won’t vote Tory – ever – though.
Edward Wynn says
I think we have to get back to a bit of reality here regarding BREXIT. Firstly the B means B has been clearly stated and its just a question of timing or triggering Art 50. There is no way to have a non Art 50 exit or renegotiation.Secondly whilst May can put off Art 50 for a period to back out of doing it would result in the government falling apart immediately because the reneg internally within the Tories would lead to loss of commons majority. This could lead to GE but certainly a loss of her premiership. Thirdly no Ar 50 would lead to a massive rise in UKIP as in my view the Leavers would wholesale shift out of the conservatives.
You dont set up ministries preparing for BREXIT if you are tring to get round it. Its just a matter of timing and preparing for complexity
Surely the actual exit negotiations — like Cameron’s ‘renegotiation’, like every other European treaty ever — are too important to be left to any cabinet minister, even the foreign secretary. They are, quite simply, vital matters for the future of the nation, and as such cannot be delegated but must be handled directly by the Prime Minister. They will, after all, mostly involve negotiating directly with other heads of government (especially now Juncker has been put in his place by Merkel) and you simply can’t send your foreign secretary to negotiate with a German Chancellor or a French President.
In short: this Johnson-Fox-Davis stuff is all an irrelevant sideshow. May is simply intending, quietly, when the time comes, to do the job herself.
Lisa Gooch-Knowles says
The signs of a good manager are:
Getting the right people, to do the right job
Giving those people the tools to do their job
The company flourishes in managers absence
The signs of a bad manager are;
Wrong people doing the wrong job (BoJo Fox Davis)
Not providing tools to do a job ( Art.50 )
Company falls apart in managers absence
Manager gloats as she believes she is indispensable
Manager passes the buck and says it wasn’t me, I was on holiday
If this is Theresa May’s strategy, then she is a bad manager