Soft or hard Brexit, or – dare we ask this question, no Brexit? Everything seems to have changed, but if Mrs May really is a member of the walking dead, is she the right person to be heading the negotiations?
A few weeks ago, the gist of her argument seemed to be ‘trust me, I have got the best interests of the country at heart, but it’s in all our interests for me to keep the nation’s cards close to my chest.”
She was very reluctant to agree to parliament having a say on any final settlement – it took Gina Miller to force that one.
And now we learn that Mrs May called an election after consulting with only a small number of her cabinet colleagues, and presumably under the advice of the – apparently – exceedingly unpopular Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.
Timothy and Hill are gone, and all we really have is anecdotal evidence – but the suggestion is that there was little debate when they were on the scene, there were two ways of running the government, The May/Hill/Timothy way and the wrong way.
But we also know that the May/Hill/Timothy way resulted in a needless election and an awful campaign. Yes, the Tories still won, but their lead collapsed during the few weeks of campaigning, and be under no doubt, the May approach, no doubt advised by Hill and Timothy, had much to do with this.
This begs the question, of course, if the advice Mrs May received concerning the election was so bad, was it any better regarding Brexit negotiations?
But listen to Tory ministers and Mrs May herself, it is as if no lessons were learned.
David Davis still repeats the same rhetoric of two months ago – denying the idea of soft versus hard Brexit, when it is clear to all that the hard Brexit argument is losing.
And in her interview on Sky News given over the weekend, Mrs May talked about ‘getting on with the job’ or ‘get on with the job’ or ‘getting on with work’ six times – and the interview was quite short, too.
Just like during the election, it is as if she is afraid to say anything meaningful – she just says the obvious.
Maybe the media trainers have taught her to just say the same thing, over and over again, irrespective of the question. This is one of the reasons why she lost so much popularity during the election campaign.
It was not any old politician who called her a ‘dead women walking’, it was the former chancellor, and former right hand man to David Cameron, George Osborne. Indeed, the tone of her rhetoric, does feel ever so slightly like it was crafted by a zombie!
Passion seems to be absent.
It’s a form of populism – giving people want she thinks they want – but no conviction seems to be behind it. Boy George wrote about something similar – ‘I am a (wo)man, without conviction.’
And now Michael Gove is back in the bosom of cabinet. Is that to stop him from launching a leadership challenge? The TV series the Walking Dead makes it clear that zombies walk very slowly, to defeat one you just need to be able to walk quite quickly – and that is all the likes of Gove, Johnson and who knows, maybe Ruth Davidson, need to do.
Are we heading for a softer Brexit – surely, we are?
But we are still being asked to trust the same negotiating team that has proven so inept up to now.
Still, at least in such chaos there is a chance that the wishes of business – who want access to the single market and access to the EU labour force – will be heeded. Mrs May cannot afford to ignore advice from outside her inner circle, not anymore.