Theresa May and her cabinet are making a complete Horlicks of Brexit. They have so far succeeded only in making the UK the laughing stock of Europe, as well as alienating the Irish, alarming the Scots and Welsh, and even put London’s Mayor and many of the capital’s people and businesses on edge. And having activated Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty earlier this year, they have little time left to sort themselves out.
The Tories’ press allies are an equally lamentable shambles. The aimless echoing of every move Ms May makes, only to see it fall apart and then have to desperately spin and reverse ferret, is equalled only by the amateurish hurling of abuse at the Irish (again), anyone in Brussels, the European Court of Justice, and all that social media territory which they cannot control, which therefore does not bend to their bidding.
So far, the Labour leadership has been keeping a watching brief and steering clear of marking out a fixed position: after all, Jeremy Corbyn is not in power, and therefore does not need to spend inordinate amounts of time staking out a policy position. But the May Government is showing signs of fracturing, under the conflicting stances of cabinet ministers, and, whisper it quietly, those outside Government who control them.
The fatal collapse of the Tory Government - which, after all, is already a minority administration, propped up only by the DUP - could happen at any time. Given Jezza’s appetite for campaigning, and the effect this had on last June’s General Election, it is not unthinkable that the smallest of Labour poll leads could have become substantial by polling day, should another contest be called soon. Which means one thing.
Corbyn would then be swept into Downing Street. Not only would the right-leaning press enter involuntary bowel movement territory as Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry was green-lighted and Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act commenced, the Brexit propaganda from the press establishment aimed at bending Government to its will would also be rendered useless. But Corbyn and his cabinet would have to confront the issue.
So they have to be prepared for inheriting the Tory mess and getting the UK out of it, and in very short order indeed. What would they do? Would the Single Market and Customs Union be retained? If so, what would be the point of continuing with the Brexit charade? Would Labour go as far as to see what deal was on offer? Would they then put that to the electorate? Have they gamed this one? Because they need all those answers.
After Jezza proved the doubters wrong last June and actually increased Labour’s vote share and seat numbers, it was not easy to say he got it wrong. But now comes the real deal: the Tories are in such a shambolic state, with Theresa May little more now than The Prisoner Of Downing Street, that there has to be someone there to pick up the pieces after she and her clown car are shuffled off to the scrapyard.
Galbraith’s definition of leadership once again applies: “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common; it was their willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership”.
The Tories won’t give their people leadership. And they may be out sooner rather than later. Jeremy Corbyn must confront the major anxiety of the people. His time is now.