Indeed, it is well-past time. Theresa May needs to resign, and she needs to do it soon. If she won’t resign, then the Cabinet and the 1922 Committee need to sort it out.
That’s my conclusion after the UK and EU agreed to extend the Article 50 deadline for withdrawal from the EU to 31st October.
Political commentators are saying May is likely to resign after the local elections, or else the European elections, so that her successor is not contaminated by the results, which are likely to be awful. I have a few things to say about that.
First, trusting that May will go after the local or European elections does not seem like a good idea to me – events could move on and she could find a reason to stay on. Which would be a disaster. There is no real convenient time to do a leadership election while in government – we need to get on with it.
Second, why would we waste almost six weeks of a six month extension on watching the clock until after the European elections? With a PM who is unable to make any progress because everyone knows she’ll be gone soon? It doesn’t make any sense. It would be a waste of precious time.
Third, if the Conservative Party puts itself before the country for one minute longer, we’re finished. Absolutely finished. Please, just do what needs to be done.
Fourth, why is this idea that a new leader would be ‘contaminated’ by the election results being accepted? It doesn’t make sense. Everyone knows that Brexit and May are causing us electoral harm. People won’t just forget that because ‘Ooo! New leader!” – because, actually, people aren’t stupid.
Fifth, if you do think a new leader would be contaminated by the elections, why not do the leadership election at the same time? So we get those results, and then the day after (or week after) the new leader is in place. That way, we’re not wasting time.
Yes, I want to run a leadership election campaign alongside the local and European elections campaigns. I think we need a full campaign, with the opportunity for a proper debate about Brexit, the Conservative Party, and what we want to do in every other policy area after Brexit. To decide what, as a Party, we now believe in. Crucially, members need to have the final say.
Yes, such a campaign would be best done during summer recess when there’s plenty of time and space for navel gazing. But we don’t have that luxury anymore. We missed that chance. We missed that chance when May stayed on as leader after her terrible General Election performance. We missed that chance after the Chequers Plan was published. And we missed the chance of a leisurely leadership election when Conservative MPs voted for May to stay on in December.
This is urgent; this needs to be done now. No more running down the clock, no more trying to be cleverer than is good for us, and no more treating the electorate as though they are stupid. It. Is. Time. May must go.