As the Cabinet gathers at Chequers today, an extraordinary memo has been passed to some journalists from a Number 10 source surrounding what happens if any ministers decide to resign on the spot today (Sam Coates from the Times has put it out on Twitter):
“All set for Chequers. Totally focused and confident of delivering a successful day for the PM. Collective responsibility will be asserted at the end of the day. Taxi cards for Aston’s taxis, the local cab firm, are in the foyer for those who decide they can’t face making the right decision for the country – but it will still be a long walk as it is a mile long driveway. A select number of narcissistic, leadership dominated cabinet minister need to support the PM in the best interests of the UK or their spots will be taken by a talented new generation of MPs whop will sweep them away.”
I love this, not really because of what it might mean for Brexit – although that is an undoubted bonus – but because it is a sign that May might be (finally, finally!) ready to show a little backbone, and God knows the country desperately needs leadership at present. She might finally be ready to assert her authority and re-inforce collective cabinet responsibility, very long overdue. As for Brexiteers whining that her gaining some guts almost certainly means it will either be soft Brexit or no Brexit on offer, I will repeat what I have done on many an occasion: you could have had Gove as PM, yet you chocked and handed it to someone who campaigned for Remain. What did you really expect would happen?
As I’ve said many times, May has little to actually fear. If Boris and Davis walk, all that really means is that their political careers are finished. Fox, same goes. Gove won’t do it, he’s too clever to do that. If half the cabinet walks, so what? All it will do is allow May to finally promote the next generation of Tory MPs and construct a cabinet that would be far superior. Even if a confidence vote is triggered, May would almost certainly win it just now, given the circumstances. Is it possible today has been her end goal all along? I’ve been sucked into the “perhaps Mrs May is a secret political genius” speculation before, so I really don’t want to go down that road now. Still, she is looking rather clever this morning. It will be interesting if I still think that this is the case tomorrow morning.
May’s attempt to establish authority:
“As we developed our policy on Brexit, I have allowed cabinet colleagues to express their individual views. Agreement on this proposal marks the point where that is no longer the case and collective responsibility is now fully restored.”
It will be interesting to see how this works out. Vince Cable’s astute observation:
“The only reason Brexiters in the cabinet will have agreed to this position is that they trust the EU will reject it”
This is not a basis for cohesion.
Is anyone else surprised by the admission that “collective responsibility” in government had not existed?