“Exclusive: Cabinet did not agree to Theresa May’s strategy for Brexit transition period, senior ministers say” reads a headline in today’s Telegraph. It may just as well have read “Exclusive: humans require oxygen to live”. One of the more annoying things about the age we live in – and given Donald Trump is president of the United States, this is really saying something – is this pretence that Theresa May is unpredictable. She isn’t. She is one of the most predictable people on the face of the Earth. Hell, this used to be touted as one of her chief assets, back in the day when everyone kidded themselves that she was Margaret Thatcher Mark 2.
Now everyone just pretends to be shocked when May does exactly what she was always going to do. Of course she was going to try to make the transitional period as open and flexible as possible, all while wrapping it in woolly language designed to offer deniability when the members of the cabinet she never consulted inevitably found out about it (probably by reading about it in the Telegraph). Why is it news that the Prime Minister supposedly didn’t inform any of her cabinet members about the small print of transitional arrangements – she didn’t inform them of the fact that there was going to be an election until five minutes before she stood outside of Number 10 and called it, remember? This is just her standard MO.
Why is any of this stuff so hard to absorb for Tory Brexiteers? Are they playing some game of softly softly, hoping the mood will be with them when they stick the knife in? Chaps, time is running out here. Is that the idea? You could drive yourself crazy trying to work out what’s going on.
In the meantime, could we just stop acting collectively shocked when we find out that Theresa May has tried to fudge something yet again? It is what she always, always, always does. Perhaps you can applaud her for trying to keep the Conservative Party in one piece (I’m not going to, but some are), but don’t pretend she isn’t trying to make the best of what she clearly sees as a bad situation. If Tory backbenchers want someone who will take them over the cliff laughing all the way, it isn’t going to be Theresa May, however many letters semi-threatening her position are sent her way. You are either a true believer in this stuff, or you are not. And actions always speak louder than words.