I am uneasy with the way the Prime Minister is being bullied from office. I fundamentally disagree with leaving the EU, but Mrs May has tried to do an impossible job as best she can. She has been caught between the rock of the referendum result and the hard place whereby any Brexit harms the British economy.
She has lacked dexterity in her negotiations and is poor at the clubbable skills essential to politics, but she does not deserve the humiliation she is getting. It is driven by the hard line Brexiteers in her own party and by the braggard Farage who are terrified that a second vote on Brexit might reverse the decision.
But why this desperate urgency to remove the Prime Minister today, tomorrow or by the weekend? If the Brexiteers they think Boris Johnson or some other true leaver Prime Minister will be able to take us out with no deal on Halloween Night, they haven’t reckoned with the growing confidence of the Remain camp to prevent it.
A lot will depend on the percentage vote for leave and remain parties when the European Parliament totals are counted on Sunday, but if Farage can be kept around 30%, the determination of parliament to do whatever is necessary to block no deal will be reinforced.
So as the Tory leadership circus gets underway, it is worth remembering that the parliamentary maths does not change. There is no majority for a reckless departure from the EU under Johnson, Rabb or any of the other little men who have made May’s life a misery over the last three years.
Lancashire merry go round
I’ve chaired a couple of excellent Downtown events with business people and politicians in Lancashire recently. The determination to succeed and bright ideas were in evidence, but the issue of devolution loomed large.
It is a bit like Brexit. People know what they are against but can’t unite around one alternative. Everyone acknowledges that there needs to be a response in the Red Rose county to the combined authorities to the south, but what shape it will take is unclear.
We are shortly to see a cross border link up between Lancaster and Cumbria but at the same time plans to bring East Lancashire together don’t look bright. Pendle Liberal Democrats only agreed to support the new Labour administration if it pledged to oppose the project.
The impasse hasn’t prevented the Labour opposition on the county to begin their economic planning for the 2021 elections. Under the leadership of Cllr. Azhar Ali and Cllr. John Fillis, they favour a central board for the county bringing together business, the trade unions and experts in the fields of highways, housing, health, education and transport. This would be supported by a regional bank, one of the big ideas of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
One of the key priorities for the councillors is to deal with the cul-de-sac that is the M65. The issue of trans Pennine links and taking the pressure off the M62 was one of the subjects at a major transport conference I recently attended in Manchester. I will report on it when Brexit doesn’t crowd out everything else.