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The Tories are disintegrating so fast that Chris Grayling is starting to look like a model MP

Amidst this anarchy, Theresa May insists the problem isn’t with her, and in a way she’s right. But instead of doing something, the party has decided to treat us to its perpetual internal warfare

Mark Steel
Tuesday 14 May 2019 08:01 BST
'There is nothing loyal about watching a car be driven off a cliff' MP Johnny Mercer on why he's withdrawing support from Government

It must be marvellous fun being in this government, now the leaders have lost all authority altogether.

Ministers openly denounce each other, every day there are meetings of members, donors, MPs, all to get rid of their leader. Next week it will be announced that ERG members’ mistresses voted 34-7 to have her kidnapped by Boko Haram, and Iain Duncan Smith will tell the Today programme he’s consulted the deer on his estate and they overwhelmingly want her to kill herself.

Johnny Mercer is the latest MP to declare he won’t vote for his own government any more. Every day one of them says they’ll only come in on Tuesdays, or they’ll vote for her withdrawal bill if she provides a hot tub for them on one of the benches in the House of Commons.

Each morning an old Tory says in an interview: “The prime minister has done an excellent job in difficult circumstances, and firing a musket at her in the house in no way detracts from my admiration for her.”

The private meetings must be glorious, with David Davies flooding the room with a hosepipe just as Theresa May starts speaking, then hurtling between the tables on a jet-ski.

Andrea Leadsom probably stands behind the prime minister’s back as she’s speaking, drawing a cock and balls and an arrow on a piece of card, while Boris Johnson comes in late on a camel that poos on her desk.

If her whips asks one of them to vote for an amendment, the MP leans on a wall, lights up a fag and says: “I do what I want, what’s it got to do with you?” Then Jacob Rees-Mogg arrives, puts his arm round the rebel and stares at the chief whip, muttering: “I’m the daddy round here, not you,” while chewing gum and polishing his monocle.

They’re so much like an unruly school, that when one of them is blamed for giving away secrets, they shout: “Go on then, sack me, see if I care, anyway I never done nothing, I swear on my kids’ lives.”

To try and appear forceful, she’ll sack someone now and again for a reason no one’s ever been sacked for before, at the same time as ignoring MPs openly plotting rebellion. She’ll insist there’s no point in disciplining a minister who says that rather than campaign for the Conservatives in the Euro elections, he’s going to spend two weeks running operations for a Mexican drugs cartel. But she will sack the junior minister for radishes for squinting in a corridor.

It’s quite sweet that the government which has descended into this anarchy is the one that insisted obsessively that schools should above all else be places where discipline is imposed.

So this government will soon be inspected by Ofsted, who will order the party to adopt special measures and turn the Conservatives into an academy, funded by an investor who established a successful chain of nail bars across Berkshire.

It will be officially reported as a “failing cabinet” and the party will be renamed the Springtime Centre for Excellence in Greed and Power.

It’s also touching that the only truly stable figure in her cabinet, who trundles from one year to the next with no hint of ever being removed, is Chris Grayling, who is so theatrically useless he’d be instantly barred from any other institution he was a member of.

The others are certain to spot this, and soon they’ll all try to copy him. Michael Gove will award a £30bn contract for providing broadband, to a garden centre in St Albans. The new defence secretary will hand over the navy to Lidl. Jeremy Hunt will reveal he’s spent £80bn on ice cubes for the army, to repel the threat of dragons after he saw an episode of Game of Thrones.

And every minister will dedicate themselves to wasting as much as possible in the most incompetent manner they can devise, in the hope they manage to inexplicably survive like Grayling.

You can see how it works, because all the others rise and fall according to how well their plotting is going, whereas Grayling doesn’t get involved in any of that, he just bankrupts the country through arrogance and stupidity, so he’s seen as relatively harmless.

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Amid this anarchy, May insists the problem isn’t with her, and in a way she’s right. Because maybe the difficulty the Conservative Party faces is discontent across much of the world, fuelled by a slow decline of living standards over a 10-year period.

The ideas that appear to address this are plans to transform society by taking it out of the hands of big business, or plans to transform society by scrapping any regulations on big business at all, and blaming everything that’s annoying on immigration.

But dealing with that is no fun, so they choose instead to treat us to their perpetual internal warfare, in which thousands of Conservatives scream the reason they can’t stand their leader is she keeps setting dates for when we’re absolutely definitely going to leave, and then she ignores that date. So their solution is that she should set a date for when she’s absolutely definitely going to resign.

If she had any sense of fun she’d say: “Alright then, 9 July,” then on 8 July reveal she hadn’t packed yet, so she’s decided to have an extension for another six years. It would be worth it to see Iain Duncan-Smith turn a hitherto undiscovered shade of purple, and explode with such energy he created a black hole and floated out of the galaxy.

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