The sexual harassment scandal currently engulfing Westminster is the very last thing Theresa May needed. Although it does not represent a threat to the government nor to Brexit to the extent many pundits are (rather over hopefully) predicting, it has placed the prime minister in a tricky position at a time when she already had more than enough to deal with. Then, Michael Fallon, her defence secretary, resigns on her.
May was faced with two options last night: either do the big reshuffle and bring in some of the newer talent within the parliamentary party, one of whom might one day relatively soon be leader, and in doing do give some meaning to her premiership; or, do the tamest moving of the chairs on offer. She chose, as we all know, the latter. I think this was a big chance she was presented with here that she completely blew. She could have used a bad situation as an opportunity to shake things up. Instead, she made the smallest change she possibly could.
Seriously, what is May hanging around for these days? She is scared of making any sudden movements lest the men in suits come to visit, I get that. But that being the case, what’s the point? If you don’t feel capable of leading the party and the country in a way that in anyway resembles how you would do it if you hadn’t just blown an election you didn’t need to call, why bother? If it’s because of the whole “I got you into this mess, I’ll get you out”, one has to say she isn’t getting the Tories out of any messes at present. If it’s because she worries about the future of the party and thinks it would all descend into chaos after her departure, then why not do as so many (myself included) have suggested and bring some fresh faces into the cabinet? Again, she fears the men in suits and again, we’re back to where we started.
If it’s because she thinks Brexit will secure her some sort of good legacy, somehow I have trouble seeing it. If it goes pear shaped, the Tories will try and heap as much blame onto her as possible; if it’s a success, or at least, not a total shower, as much credit as possible will be routed away from her door.
I think what I’m left with is here is that she’s hanging on for the sake of hanging on. And if she isn’t going to lay the foundations for the next leader to be someone who can reinvigorate the right of British politics anew, then the men in suits should come rather sooner than later.