May just never seems to be Theresa May’s month, in a strain against nominative determinism. As Brexit fears crescendo again in the approach to European Parliament elections – and as sterling falls 4 pence from ~1.31 to 1.27 – yesterday Prime Minister May daringly offered MPs a vote on a second referendum to go alongside her revised deal. Tim Shipman, political editor for the Sunday Times, tweeted that “Theresa May’s speech sounds like a kidnap victim reading out the demands of her captors”.
Predictably, belief in Theresa May’s deal lasted little more than an hour, according to the dead cat bounce in FX markets, with MPs immediately bashing the hollow changes alongside invective towards the PM, with one calling May “a genius when it comes to making matters worse”. The ERG unanimously agreed to vote against the deal, as have the DUP; even close allies are now calling for the dead-in-the-water-deal to be pulled, but as it stands Downing Street still seems to be moving ahead, perhaps with the simple aim “to try what they see as the right thing before she goes”.
But the PM may not get the chance to table the vote, with Conservative groups calling members/readers not to vote Conservative tomorrow unless May is gone today, and Nigel Evans of the 1922 Committee pushing for a rule change at 4pm today so that they can hold another no-confidence vote immediately. But MEP Daniel Hannan warns that “For the sake of administering a kicking to a PM who is already leaving, we risk a Corbyn government.”
Many now expect the “captive” May (to Brexit ideals and to party politics) will be gone by Sunday (the day of the European results) regardless of how the Conservatives fare in tomorrow’s European Parliament elections. Some polls are putting the Conservatives at just 7%, almost as bad as Change UK at just 3%, with it and the major parties sharing out the Remain vote whilst the lion’s share of frustrated Brexiteers are backing The Brexit Party – to the tune of nearly 40% according to numerous polls. So alongside Brexit fears markets will be looking to how Labour capitalise on all the Conservative carnage and who rises to the top of the rubble after all this Conservative infighting.