Government Stability and the Prospects for Brexit

The shift from a potential strong and stable Government to one that is weak and perhaps unstable does not need much more commentary.

What we do need to do is take a deep breath and separate a proper understanding of the realpolitik involved in minority government and the speculative and manipulative 'fluff' coming from all those groups who have hopes of power or influence but who actually have little. Moralising on the 'bribe' to the DUP does nothing except show a stamping of the foot at the fact that the moraliser is not in a position to offer such a bribe or in receipt of one.

The bottom line is that it is probable (excepting under one condition) that the DUP-Tory alliance will ensure that the Government can sustain its economic, Brexit and national security programme without needing to go to the country or finding an additional ally for perhaps a year or maybe eighteen months, allowing for the standard rate of attrition caused by lost by-elections. Labour's propaganda-led drive (which at one moment threatened to spill on to the streets of London), aided and abetted by Hard Remainers, to force the Tories out or smash their programme, failed.

There is a threat to a weak Tory hegemony but it comes from within. The Tories have adopted a strategy of hanging together lest they be hanged together but its 'left' wing (effectively the pro-business, metropolitan and single market wing) has hopes that an early internal leadership election might put Chancellor Hammond into the Prime Minister's seat and moderate Brexit to the point of making June 23rd, 2016, next to irrelevant. The decision is not theirs, his victory is not certain and by the time the internal election takes place, the Brexit negotiations are likely to be well under way.

There is, of course, an alternative model - that Remainers combine across Party lines and use their power to undermine Brexit. But this too is not so simple. The Remain Centre is driven by a small group of Labour MPs who loathe their own Leader. Jeremy Corbyn (who in any case accepts Brexit) is unlikely to back an initiative of theirs unless it will bring down the Government. This, in turn, requires, eight or nine Tory MPs to destroy their careers by conspiring in the destruction of a Conservative Administration in favour of a 'progressive', possibly Socialist, one. This is unlikely.

Of course, Prime Minister May and her Cabinet are not fools. They have to recognise that conditions have changed. They have to accommodate the sentiments of their own liberals and this is precisely what is happening. Although the Opposition maintains its intense and aggressive position towards the Government, backed by all the minority parties except the DUP, even the most Brexit Tories such as Davis and Fox have become very pragmatic. The Government's tactic now is to preserve the core of sovereignty but be as liberal and as pro-business as possible within that policy imperative.

This means that, until there is an internal leadership election (which could come at any time) and so long as a few Tory MPs are not politically suicidal and the agreement with the DUP holds, a pragmatically engineered Brexit, austerity economics and May's security state are probably guaranteed for quite some time, enough time to see the Opposition exhausted as it smashes its head against a brick wall hoping its cranium will dislodge the bricks, the Lords cajoled and defied and a fairly acceptable Brexit to most people well on track. Nothing is certain but time has been bought for Brexit.