Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Theresa May’s great comeback is now underway

<p class="p1">Calling an early election weakened her party and destroyed her authority. Can the PM get Tory MPs back on side?</p>

Theresa May has always made her holidays sound as sensible and lacking in exoticism as she is. But something strange happens to the Prime Minister when she takes a break. After her last break, she decided she wanted a snap election. Now she’s back from the three-week holiday that was supposed to help the Conservative party calm down, and she’s declaring that she is here ‘for the long term’ and that she does want to fight the next election for the Conservatives. Her colleagues had urged her to take a long break this summer. They might now start getting a little suspicious when their leader next starts talking about some annual leave.

Now, refreshed from walking in the Alps, the Prime Minister has returned to declare that she is “in it for the long term” and might even fight the next general election. We can expect to hear a lot more on this theme. She has a number of speeches to deliver later this month about Europe and domestic reform, speeches she will also use as part of her campaign to persuade MPs to forgive and forget. As they all know, much is at stake. The Tories can’t agree on anyone to replace her, which is why she’s staying – and saying that she’s no caretaker. If they enfeeble their own leader, out of revenge or anger, they’ll look criminally incompetent and might never be forgiven by voters who (as the last general election demonstrated) are very close to choosing Jeremy Corbyn.

To understand the cabinet turmoil, it’s necessary to note how many ministers believe they were monstrously mistreated by May. Few felt trusted, or even listened to. One secretary of state, who failed to express total support for a policy in a cabinet meeting, afterwards received a furious and profane message from No. 10, warning him never to speak out against the Prime Minister in public.

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