May’s cabinet has been riddled with division over the country’s overall strategy to handle Brexit, more than a year after the country’s controversial vote to leave the European Union (EU).
The differences of opinion peaked last week, when Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson laid out his own Brexit outlook in an article published by the Telegraph on Saturday, which drew criticism from other Tories for promoting key Brexit demands of the opposition.
Tory grandee William Hague, who once led the party, warned in his own article on the same platform that “putting it a bit quietly,” Johnson’s words showed how May’s ministers “lack co-ordination.”
“More bluntly, it is now 15 months since the referendum, and high time that all members of the Government were able to express themselves on this subject in the same way as each other, putting forward the same points, as part of an agreed plan,” the Conservative bigwig and former foreign secretary wrote Monday.
Hague warned that May’s upcoming Brexit speech on Friday was her only chance to unite her cabinet and get the government back on track.
“If not, there will be no point Conservatives discussing who is going to be the Foreign Secretary, Chancellor or Prime Minister in the coming years, because Jeremy Corbyn will be Prime Minister, sitting in Number 10 with John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, completely ruining this country,” Hague wrote.
Meanwhile, Veteran pro-EU Conservative MP Ken Clarke told BBC that Johnson was "exploiting" May’s weak position as PM and that that "in normal circumstances" he would have been dismissed immediately.
“Sounding off personally in this way is totally unhelpful and he shouldn’t exploit the fact that [Theresa May] hasn’t got a majority in parliament,” Clarke said Tuesday. “And he knows perfectly well that, normally, a foreign secretary would be sacked instantly for doing that.”
Clarke went further, denouncing the article as a blatant attempt by Johnson to replace May, whose leadership has been endangered after her plans to gain more power in parliament by calling a snap general election in June ended in disaster.
‘Driving from backseat’
The row over Johnson’s controversial article escalated on Monday when Home Secretary Amber Rudd accused the foreign secretary of being a “backseat driver” over EU negotiations.
“What I meant by that is I don't want him managing the Brexit process,” Rudd fired during a BBC interview.
May denies losing control
Faced with growing questions about her competence to run the party, May tried to contain the damage and reassert her leadership on Monday, before heading to Canada to discuss post-Brexit trade.
“This government is driven from the front, and we’re all going to the same destination,” the embattled PM said.
Corbyn enjoying popularity
The main opposition leader, who managed to take away the Tories’ parliamentary majority in the June 8 election, has enjoyed growing popularity in most polls ever since.
An exclusive survey by BMG Research for The Independent showed Monday that 69 percent of British voters favored Corbyn’s policies.
The row has allowed to push for a soft Brexit, which has proven more appealing than May’s “good deal or no deal” narrative.