Election 2020

Tories Restive as Hapless Theresa May Falters

(Rex Features via AP Images)

She’s only prime minister because her predecessor, David Cameron, gambled and lost on the Brexit vote, which forced him to fall on his sword. Then Theresa May gambled even bigger when she called a snap election — and got the Tory party’s head handed to her. Now, some British Conservatives want hers in return:

A devastating election and a high-profile speech strewn with mishaps have ignited a leadership crisis for British Prime Minister Theresa May at a critical time as Brexit negotiators push for a deal in Brussels. A plot by a group of Conservative MPs to oust May was exposed on Friday, reviving memories of the backstabbing that led to Margaret Thatcher’s ouster in 1990.

Many colleagues publicly condemned the attempt and backed their leader, but the Sunday Times reported that at least three cabinet ministers had discussed the need to replace her this week.

Parliament returns on Monday and May is expected to announce a number of policy initiatives in a bid to reassert her authority, while there are also rumours of a cabinet reshuffle. But she will also need some progress in the deadlocked Brexit negotiations which resume on Monday.

What a mess. The Tories were hoping for the second coming of Margaret Thatcher, and instead they got the second coming of Goron Brown — a colorless apparatchik, with the charisma of a sodden log and the charm of a mud fence. The fact that Labour’s house commie, Jeremy Corbyn, came as close as he did in the last election ought to give the Tories a sense of urgency, especially with Britain in the early stages of an Islamic insurrection that will upend all political calculations if it is not suppressed quickly.

For many Conservatives, it is now a question of when, not if, she steps down ahead of the next election in 2022 — and the date most often mentioned is 2019, when Britain is expected to leave the European Union. “Getting rid of her is like going to the dentist,” a government minister was quoted by The Sun as saying. “You keep putting it off because it’s going to be painful but you know you have to do it eventually.”

Sooner would be better than later.