This article was first written on 25th March 2019 for betting.betfair.com
If anyone was still in doubt that Brexit is, fundamentally, a Conservative Party soap opera, the weekend’s events surely confirmed it. As voices from across the political spectrum talked of ‘national crisis and ‘humiliation’, the Tory civil war intensified.
Various ministers linked with looming Cabinet coup
Yesterday’s Sunday Times reported a Cabinet coup to be underway – with a view towards some kind of unprecedented caretaker PM scenario. The names involved are Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and David Lidington. The journalist, Tim Shipman, has impeccable sources and is arguably the foremost chronicler of this government.
There was immediately plenty of pushback. Naturally Gove and Lidington distanced themselves – they would, wouldn’t they? On the Marr show, Brexiter backbencher Iain Duncan Smith called Lidington ‘the answer to a question nobody asked’. Word emerged that Brexiter MPs didn’t trust Gove. In a different story one-time arch-Remainer Nicky Morgan is reported to be the preferred unity candidate by the ERG.
Caretaker PM might not be installed as Tory leader
Where on Earth are we? Before updating the betting, we must distinguish between the Next Conservative Leader and Prime Minister after Theresa May. Given that nobody expects her to stand in another election, it had seemed a safe assumption that they would yield the same winner.
Not so. One mooted idea is that May would stand down as PM, but stay on as Tory leader for a short while to avert the need for a leadership contest. Plus we cannot totally rule out May calling a snap election and resisting attempts to remove her. If that unlikely sequence occurred, Jeremy Corbyn would become favourite to replace her.