WHAT IS ON THERESA MAY’S CHRISTMAS LIST?
For some, the festive season is a time of reflection. For others, it is a time for wishful thinking. As Parliament rises for the Christmas recess, the Prime Minister may cast a thought towards what she would like to see in her Christmas stocking this year. If she hasn’t already written a list for Santa she may want to read on for a few ideas.
This is clearly the first thing on her Christmas list. For the Prime Minister, it would be a Christmas miracle if she was able to present a deal to the British people that unites both sides of her party and can bridge the divide between Brexiteers and Remainers. Her decision to allow her Cabinet to present their visions for a post-Brexit economy earlier this week was a step towards creating a consensus, although many in the opposition have criticised her for taking so long to get to this point.
The Prime Minister may decide to focus her Christmas wishes on the piece of legislation that will enshrine Brexit into UK law, The EU Withdrawal Bill. Some commentators have suggested this bill is likely to face an intense 3rd reading in the House of Commons, and has already been forecast to face severe scrutiny during its subsequent passage in the House of Lords. Avoiding another embarrassing defeat will be paramount for Mrs May as she plays catch up on the Brexit timetable. Sadly, for the Prime Minister, accomplishing the mammoth task of a successful Brexit may be equivalent to wishing for a pony. She may be told that Santa was not be able to fit it on his sleigh.
Mrs May will be hoping that 2018 will provide opportunities to showcase the ‘strong and stable leadership’ that was so often referenced on the campaign trail, and position her as a leader with vision and direction moving forward. Recent months have been a rollercoaster ride for her premiership, with months of speculation about how long she’s likely to stay in No. 10 and who is likely to succeed her. She may find some solace in the fact that her Cabinet, and Conservative backbenchers alike, recognise the larger threat to the party in removing her. Across the aisle, Jeremy Corbyn has been growing in confidence and was recently quoted boldly saying “I will probably be prime minister in the next 12 months”. This may actually serve to strengthen her position as the wider party is wary of a leadership contest that could lead to another General Election.
Christmas looked bleak for Mrs May at earlier this week when Damian Green, her closest ally and trusted advisor, resigned following an investigation into his conduct. This will no doubt result in at least some degree of reshuffle. Therefore, the Prime Minister may wish to include an effective, seamless and uncontroversial overhaul of her Cabinet on her Christmas list.
She may also opt for a number of ‘smaller’ ticket items on her Christmas list. These requests could include a mild winter period that will reduce pressure on NHS services, a major split within the Labour Party, or the cliché Christmas wish for world peace.
The Chancellor’s Budget Statement and the progression of Brexit negotiations past the financial settlement are likely to be seen as her early Christmas present. Just like during childhood, it is likely that Theresa May will have to settle for the reality that you are lucky to get more than one of the items on your Christmas list.
Whatever Mrs May finds in her stocking on Christmas morning we can assume that her Christmas lunch will no doubt be dominated by Brussels…