The distance between what May says and what is actually happening grows bigger by the minute.
Conservative vice-chairs Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley are the latest to resign over May’s Brexit policy:
BREAKING: Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley have both resigned as vice-chairs of the Tory party just now because they oppose the Chequers policy…
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— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) July 10, 2018
These resignations follow those of former cabinet ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson. But at 10.47am on 10 July, May tried to create the image that everything was going well. She sent a tweet from her (hastily) reshuffled cabinet meeting:
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) July 10, 2018
But as the responses to May’s tweet show, no one believes her. And that was before the latest resignations.
In Caulfied’s letter of resignation, she stated that she could not “support the direction of travel in the Brexit negotiations” because she could “not fully embrace the opportunities that Brexit can provide”. And in a similar critique of May’s so-called “Chequers compromise”, Bradley said it offered “the worst of all worlds” and would “not deliver a Brexit in spirit”.
But something must be going on behind the scenes. Because just five days ago, Bradley offered his full support for May:
And it’s not just Bradley who’s turned on May. Because in response to her ‘everything’s fine’ tweet, it’s virtually impossible to find a single word of support for the prime minister.
At the time of writing, May’s tweet has over 1,400 responses. But there is little – if any – support for her. In fact, many comments seem to come from former Tory voters:
She is here, Conservative supporting family for well over 50 years, three generations, all vow they will never vote Tory again. Without doubt the most duplicitous incumbent of the Tory leadership ever. Vile woman
— Cheryl Russell (@LizzieDulally) July 10, 2018
After this betrayal I will never vote Conservative again.
— MatthewNorfolk (@matthew_norfolk) July 10, 2018
I lent my vote to the Tories as i guess many others did, that favour will now be withdrawn. However you try to spin it we have been taken for mugs so our only option is revenge at the ballot box. #BrexitBetrayal
— Paul Williams (@HIP_Energy) July 10, 2018
And these don’t seem to be empty threats, because the latest polls put Labour two points ahead at 40% and the Conservatives at 38%. The Conservatives have dropped three points in just two weeks. And some apparent Tory voters have openly said they will now vote Labour:
Let me say this Mrs May I am a lifelong Tory voter. However come the next election I am going to vote Labour. It breaks my heart to do that. However seeing as you have betrayed millions of British people I think it only fair to reciprocate in kind and betray you.
— Graham Lear #Brexit #British (@graham100200) July 10, 2018
Meanwhile, lots and lots of people have called for her resignation:
The only productive outcome we want from you is your resignation #MayMustGo
— givarche (@givarche) July 10, 2018
Please go, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our party, for God's sake go. Go now.
— Peter Thompson (@P_G_Thompson) July 10, 2018
And May’s efforts to weave football with politics didn’t go down too well either:
Mrs May as a Conservative Member I’m begging you to resign .. By the way the England team belongs to England non negotiable… Traitor may has to go
— denise lance (@hippocrates16) July 10, 2018
“Hi country, here’s a group of people intent on ruining everything you hold dear for some personal gain. By the way, we have no idea what we are doing” you are incredibly lucky the country is distracted by the football. Your party/cabinet is an axis of evil.
— Chris Mac (@C_Mac1986) July 10, 2018
A very long week
A week – so the saying goes – is a long time in politics. And this week has been exceptional.
If May clings on, it’s now utterly beyond doubt that her government is fractured. And it seems the only person who won’t acknowledge that is May herself. But the distance between what she says and what’s actually happening grows bigger every minute.
With resignations now coming on a daily basis, the country is watching with bated breath. Who’ll go next? Get the popcorn…
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