I’ll declare an interest right off the bat: I very much prefer Theresa May as the next prime minister. I can’t believe it has come to that, but there you are. She is far and away the least bad option here. Compare her to Michael “come meet the psychopaths I’ll be working with” Gove, and Stephen “Jesus told me to do it” Crabb, never mind the severely untested Leadsom and well, Liam Fox, and this becomes clear.
But for now I stick to my prediction that Gove will be our next prime minister for a few reasons. One is that May’s campaign is running a very effective comms mission with the right-wing (and the left-wing, frankly) press at present, one that sets out to prove she is the inevitable winner of this contest. It has gone so far that the brief is now that May is a foregone conclusion as the next leader of the country, thus the other candidates not only should but undoubtedly will drop out of the race before the vote goes to the membership.
This is a dangerous line to peddle that could very well backfire, big time. I realise the country is in a bit of a mess, mostly because of the internal machinations of the Conservative Party as it happens, and thus sanity being within reach seems worth swimming towards without a further consideration, but have they really thought about this in any sort of depth? It does reek rather heavily of “establishment stitch up” if a Remain candidate gets the premiership without even a vote of the membership, just the Tory parliamentary party rubber stamping who gets to be the next prime minister. Even if it manages not to cause a big fuss within the Conservative Party (a very, very big if), this will be gold dust to UKIP: a pro-Remain Tory leader anointed by bypassing the party’s membership, who will undoubtably agree some sort of EEA deal that “betrays the Leave vote”. This could be the true making of the Kippers as a genuine Westminster party.
Beyond that even, it assumes that Gove and Leadsom will just bow out and make room for May. Why everyone thinks this will simply occur is beyond me. Have they met Gove’s inner-circle? These were the people who masterminded a vote for Britain to leave the EU, you might have remembered that a little while back. We are now assuming the folks who have pulled off the upset of the century are just going to stand aside and give Theresa May the crown for the hell of it? Say to themselves, “well, they’ve briefed the Mail very well – the jig is up”? Um, no. This is a very bizarre theory at best.
Yes, the hardcore Brexiteers have no idea what to do next, but they didn’t when they were campaigning for it to happen, so why do you think that will deter them now? Perhaps I really am missing something here, but I still don’t see the May as automatic PM thing coming true – as much as I’d very much settle for it taking place now.