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by GK Strategy 30th June, 2017
3 min read

Will May last till Christmas?

While Jeremy Corbyn got a rapturous reception at Glastonbury playing his greatest hits, it was Michael Eavis, the founder of the music festival, who offered us the most insight into the Labour leader’s thinking. In addition to an eyebrow-raising comment on ending Trident, Eavis claimed Corbyn had said he expected to be Prime Minister “in six months”. However serious that comment might have been, it reflects wider debate politicos are having on whether Theresa May and maybe even a Tory-led government can last until the end of the year.

This might seem a trivial question given the Tories and DUP have finally struck a deal to uphold the current minority Government. Certainly, now the deal is official, the prospect of the Conservative Party losing power this side of Christmas appears very unlikely. The self-preservation instinct of backbenchers is such that Tory MPs will have no appetite for another election anytime soon, following the shock election result that turned seemingly safe Tory seats into very slim marginals. Coupled with Brexit negotiations and the DUP’s obvious fear of letting in a new Prime Minister who has, in the most diplomatic of terms, sympathies with the Irish republican cause, it is safe to say we can expect a blue coloured government for the foreseeable future.

Less certain is Theresa May’s future. She has already told her party, albeit rather self-evidently, that she will serve “as long as you want me to”. David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, has recently said it would be “catastrophic” for Brexit negotiations if the Prime Minister stepped down, and her cabinet, for the time being, seems to be unified behind her. While Davis’ argument has a good foundation of logic, May has come under enormous public criticism recently, especially following the Grenfell tragedy, leaving backbenchers feeling uneasy over whether she is toxifying the Party at a time when Corbyn’s political capital is on the rise. This said a leadership challenge seems unlikely in the short-term with there being few, if any, potential challenges that could unify the Party and help it rebound in the polls.

Regardless of the timetable of her departure, the wide consensus is that May will step down before the next election. Leaving after the Brexit talks are finished in 2019 would seem a smart move politically, not just for her legacy but also allowing a successor to remain less tethered to any failings during negotiations. Yet, Macmillan’s maxim on the power of “events, dear boy, events” will loom large over her premiership, not least with the outcome of negotiations on the size of the Brexit divorce bill expected to emerge in October.

The spate of unexpected results over the last two years means it is folly to try to predict what will happen in politics today let alone in six months. But for the time being it is not too much of a stretch to say the odds are with Theresa May celebrating her second Christmas as Prime Minister. Just how merry it will remain to be seen.

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