Please see my latest wire for The New York Sun, ‘ Britain Appears to Be Ripe for Collective Government by “Ministry of All the Talents” ’:
Though Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn is one of the few major figures in British politics publically calling for Theresa May to stand down from her premiership, the sentiment is rampant in Conservative constituencies and Establishment enclaves across Great Britain. The Prime Minister’s electoral gamble of trying to backfoot Mr. Corbyn’s troubled tenure, and increase her parliamentary majority, failed spectacularly.
To remain in power as leader of a minority party, Mrs. May must seek an agreement of “confidence and supply” — supply meaning spending — with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists. The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who was cashiered in July and edits the Evening Standard, calls Mrs. May a “dead woman walking.”
For all intents and purposes, the Prime Minister leads a caretaker government, awaiting a new head and new direction. Already rumors swirl that the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, once her opponent for leadership, has been approached by five ministerial colleagues to stand against Mrs. May. While there may be little love in the country for the beleaguered Tory chief who shared scant authority with her colleagues, there is less appetite among Conservatives for the wounds that would be inflicted by a contest for the top job.
Particularly not with Brexit negotiations scheduled to begin in less than a fortnight (European Union officials will be merciless in exploiting Britain’s divisions to win concessions that undermine the determination of last June’s referendum). Mr. Corbyn’s rejuvenated Labor MPs will be salivating for any opportunity to assume government.
But there is an alternative to the choice of glumly following the maladroit Mrs. May or risking all on the vagaries of a leadership race. Simply turn the Prime Minister from a political liability into a benign figurehead for cabinet rule.
My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.