Now is not the time, for Theresa May to quit as Prime Minister


Hold the front page: Prime Minister says she wants to remain Prime Minister.

Theresa May’s statement that she is in the head-of-government business “for the long haul” , is “not a quitter” and want to lead her party at the next election does not sound like a “man-bites-dog” story.

Except for one thing: it is a miracle she is still PM, since it was her decision to hold a general election that needlessly cost her party its majority.

Her insistence that she’s here for the duration matters – although it means both more and less than its face value.

It confirms that a majority of her MPs, don’t want her to go – yet.

And it proves that when she was hiking over Swiss hill and dale this summer, she also concluded that “now is not the time” (a few of you will see what I’ve done there).

But it absolutely does not mean she is guaranteed to lead the Tories the next time they go to the country.

More than for any Tory leader of modern times, she serves only at the pleasure of her wary parliamentary colleagues.

Right now they would regard a leadership battle as a collective suicide pact, because they know the country is begging for a period of stability and they haven’t got a clue which of their number would be better placed to fight Labour and Jeremy Corbyn.

And since most of them think Brexit probably should mean Brexit, they would rather not further complicate talks to get us out of the EU by appointing a new skipper before those talks have properly got going.

So they have made it clear to May that they want her to stay on just as long as it takes to quit the EU, work out precisely what it is they stand for these days – after the fudge and mudge of the past few months – and identify who would be best to build on her shaky foundations.

There is a theoretical possibility that she might perform so brilliantly in coming months that TM Mark 2 is seen as the best replacement for TM 1. But even her devoted husband Philip might not bet the farm on that.

For what it is worth, I don’t know a single Tory MP who expects her to be their boss when they next fight for their constituency lives.

So it would not be unreasonable to give this latest declaration by the PM precisely the same weight as her repeated promises not to hold an early general election.


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