Every day Theresa May looks less and less like a person able to lead the United Kingdom to success inside or outside the European Union.
She is presenting the country with no vision, just a slogan — “Strong and stable leadership.” Well, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a strong leader in Turkey and the Kim dynasty has given North Korea stable leadership. Is that what we want.
Perhaps Donal Trump suggested to Mrs May as he squeezed her hand: “You can make England strong and stable again.” Goodness knows where the slogan came from but it cannot disguise the lack of vision.
She says she is confident of a good Brexit agreement but yesterday, after the apparently disastrous meeting with EU president Jean-Claude Junker on Thursday, she was returning to her “no deal is better than a bad deal” line.
The full horror of that meeting between the two negotiating teams, as reported by a German newspaper today, is relayed in the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian. Take your pick: both interpretations are similar. Junker is despairing of reaching an agreement with May who he regards as being on another galaxy.
To gain any credibility Mrs May must give us her vision of what she would like to be the outcome she will seek from the negotiations. This is not giving away negotiating power: it is what every negotiator has to do to get support, whether it is from a country’s voters or a trade union’s members.
Of course, the aspirations are higher than the eventual result is likely to be. That’s what negotiations are about: finding a compromise in the best interests of both parties. And it is easier to do if you don’t antagonise those on the other side of the table.
There is the argument, put forward by Matthew d’Ancona in the Guardian that Mrs May wants lot more Tory MPs so that she can tell the Brexit fundamentalists to piss off and let her get on with making a good deal. If that increase came as a result of former UKIP voters switching to the Conservatives the theory would not wash at all.
At present she is simply appeasing the fundamentalists by promising the possibility of no-deal. This is not leadership and it looks very unstable.