I will begin this article with a disclaimer: I am not making a solid prediction here, nor am I telling you how you should bet your own money. What I am doing rather is making a point about the unpredictability of British politics at present and how if you were a betting person, you could do worse than bet on something no one seems to think has a possibility of happening. Which is that Theresa May will still be prime minister on April 1, 2020.
You can get odds of between 4/1 and 6/1 on this taking place. I think it is actually more likely than not that May will still be in Number 10 a year from now, so these odds seem generous to me. You wouldn’t think this is the case given that political pundits are already writing her political obituary and several Tory MPs are in non-stop leadership campaigning mode. Ignore this: they all want May to stay until Brexit is “sorted”. Given the unbelievable difficulty of this, her sticking around for another year starts to seem probable.
Most Tory MPs understand that if there is a leadership contest before Brexit is “sorted”, the campaign could end up ripping the party apart. Again, the problem here is that Brexit isn’t going to be “sorted” any time soon, unless of course we decide that we don’t want to go through with it. If that happens, there will probably be huge electoral consequences for the Tories, at least in the short term. Thus, either the Brexit negotiations go on and on and on or we don’t leave. Those are starting to look like the only two possibilities. Whichever happens, a Tory civil war seems to beckon. As a result, they will hold onto nurse for fear of something worse for as long as possible. Everyone points to December 2019 as her last possible staging post, as by then she can be voted out via no confidence again. Yet she could easily last beyond that if things stay as they are now.
The fact that a prime minister who has lost a vote by a 230 majority, been seen to be in contempt of parliament, both of these things monumental, not to mention having lost the trust and support of her entire cabinet and most if not all of her party, and yet could still hang onto Downing Street for another calendar year speaks volumes about the crisis the country finds itself in. You could do worse than bet on this continuing for another year at least.
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