25 Jan

Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin

The writing has been on the wall for Theresa May for a long time. And the words form the same judgement that was delivered to Belshazzar, as recorded in Daniel 5:25: Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting. 

Mrs May, the most useless home secretary and the most incompetent prime minister we’ve had since Methuselah was a boy, is clearly at the end of her tether. She is fragile and histrionic. She cried on election night when it was borne in on her that she is so pathetic she couldn’t even see off Jeremy Corbyn. In the Brexit negotiations she appeared schizoid and frantic. She talked tough for ten minutes, then wept and pleaded. Naturally, her tormentors the apparatchiks Juncker and Barnier – and of course Monsieur le-vanity-case Macron and Frau Fuhrer – played on May’s mood swivels to perfection. They kissed, cuddled, flattered and cajoled her, then they shouted and threatened  Their enjoyment of her tortured hopelessness was excruciating to watch. She conceded their every demand and called it her triumph.

And the conclusion of it all? It is clear that, under the Remainer May, we are on the way to a Brexit so soft you could dip your toast soldiers in it. The EU will give no ground on the movement of populations. We shall most likely end up still in the single market and the customs union. In other words we shall be out in name but very definitely still in in reality.

Like Mr Eliot in Ash Wednesday, I hardly dare to hope for fear of hoping for the wrong thing. But…I detect a glimmer, a faint stirring, the thinnest ray of light in the encircling gloom: at last something seems to be afoot.

Last Monday Juliet Samuels wrote a flagellating article in the Daily Telegraph which, being summarised, said it was time for May to go. The Telegraph followed up on Tuesday with a shoal of readers’ letters in enthusiastic agreement with Ms Samuel. On Wednesday, writing in the same space, Philip Johnson  said: “The prime minister’s detractors fail to see that it is they who lack boldness and weaken the Tories. Her critics should be prepared to do more than wound her.”

Well, what more can you do to a person than wound? There’s only kill, isn’t there?

There is no let-up in the barrage of criticism, nor in its caustic fury. In Thursday’s Telegraph, Nick Timothy – remember him, the orchestrator of her pathetic election campaign? – has popped up saying: “As Conservative MPs are beginning to realise, they need to govern with more urgency and greater purpose. The key to finding that purpose lies not in a further excess of liberalism, but in a modern application of real philosophical conservatism.”

Real philosophical conservatism, as even Nick Timothy must understand, is about as far away as you can get from Theresa May’s fancy of socialism-lite. If Mrs May is reading Timothy’s article in Davos, she must me tempted to repeat the dying words of Julius Caesar: “Et tu Brute?”

Perhaps all this can be shrugged off as merely a bit of kite-flying by one newspaper. Hardly – because the Telegraph is, or at least purports to be, the Tories’ loudest cheerleader. But wait, the Telegraph isn’t the only paper to be saying these things. Also on Thursday morning Iain Martin in The Times came out saying that May has failed, her time is up and she should go and make way for someone else.

So I repeat my tentative question: So late in the day, so far and so deeply into May’s calamitous premiership, is there something afoot at last?

If it were done when ‘tis done, t’were well it were done quickly. The Tory grandees should despatch the men in suits and tell her her time’s up. They could quote those words of Daniel the prophet if they liked

End the long-running farce. Return to traditional conservatism. Send for Jacob-Rees-Mogg!