James Forsyth

Can Theresa May nurse the Tories back to health?

Can Theresa May nurse the Tories back to health?
Text settings

It might prove easier for the Tories’ new leader Theresa May to reunite the party post referendum than expected. First, many Tory MPs have been taken aback by the brutality of the past few weeks. They know how close the party is to entering into a post-Maastricht cycle of political violence and there appears to be a desire to pull back from the brink. Second, both sides have had their pound of flesh. The Leavers have seen David Cameron resign and George Osborne see his leadership hopes dashed; the Remainers have seen Boris Johnson and Michael Gove brought low by the leadership contest.

May’s biggest challenge will, obviously, be to negotiate a Brexit deal that is acceptable to both the country and the Tory parliamentary party. May has talked a lot in this contest about the need to ‘control free movement’, which many have taken as a sign that she intends to try and negotiate some European Economic Area-style deal for the UK. But the danger of such a deal is that it would not offer enough on free movement to satisfy many Leavers.