May’s gov­ern­ment is in a Priti pickle...

Sunday Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s the stench that hits you. The stench of a gov­ern­ment and its au­thor­ity rapidly rot­ting away. Min­is­ters be­ing forced to stand down, ques­tions over how long the leader can sur­vive. These things al­ways fol­low a pat­tern.

Like Labour in 1979 when the Scot­tish Na­tion­al­ists re­fused to keep us in power, and in 1997 when John Ma­jor’s fag-ash gov­ern­ment was fi­nally blown away by the winds of change.

But at least both gov­ern­ments had five years in power be­fore they fell. Theresa May is just five months into her “strong and sta­ble” gov­ern­ment and al­ready it feels like it’s in its death throes.

And all in a week when we’ve seen the De­fence Sec­re­tary re­sign and the First Sec­re­tary of State sub­ject to a Cab­i­net Of­fice in­quiry.

We also have a For­eign Sec­re­tary whose false com­ments to a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee about a UK mum could add an­other five years to her jail sen­tence in Iran.

A strong and sta­ble gov­ern­ment would be able to give Boris John­son the boot. May’s too fee­ble to do it.

But noth­ing high­lighted how weak and wob­bly May has be­come than the farce over her now for­mer In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Priti Pa­tel.

I find it re­mark­able that a min­is­ter fixed up her own meet­ings with the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment with­out telling our For­eign Of­fice, lied about it – then dis­cussed giv­ing aid to Is­rael’s army for a project in il­le­gal set­tle­ments Bri­tain doesn’t even recog­nise.

What’s worse was that when Pa­tel was meet­ing the Is­raeli PM, For­eign Of­fice min­is­ter Alis­tair Burt was there meet­ing ju­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

I re­mem­ber the fights that took place be­tween the For­eign Of­fice and the De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment when Labour was in gov­ern­ment. When we came to power in 1997, we took in­ter­na­tional aid away from the For­eign Of­fice to set up the DFID.

The FO al­ways hated that and relations be­tween the min­is­ters – For­eign Sec­re­tary Jack Straw and In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Clare Short – were al­ways icy.

The For­eign Of­fice will have been de­lighted that Pa­tel has gone and I’ve no doubt they’ve briefed against her to the me­dia.

But the most damn­ing ex­am­ple of May’s po­lit­i­cal im­po­tence is how Pa­tel left the Gov­ern­ment.

Af­ter be­ing sum­moned back from a trip to Africa with the world mon­i­tor­ing the flight’s progress on­line, Priti Pa­tel strolls into Down­ing Street and an­nounces she’s re­signed.

If that was Tony Blair or Gor­don Brown, she’d have been sacked

I was de­lighted to en­ter­tain my grand­kids at my house on Novem­ber 5. My grand­daugh­ter Ava Grace thought it was won­der­ful, but wanted to know why we had a bon­fire and guy, rock­ets and fire­works. I ex­plained it was to cel­e­brate the night in 1605 when a group of peo­ple tried to blow up and de­stroy Par­lia­ment. To which she replied: “But isn’t that what’s hap­pen­ing now?” She’s not wrong. days ago. In­stead, Priti smiled to the cam­eras as she left to re­turn to the back­benches as a cheer­leader for Brex­i­teers and a fu­ture lead­er­ship chal­lenger.

Tony Blair fa­mously said that Ma­jor was “weak, weak, weak”. But May is dead, dead, dead. Even a turkey has a bet­ter chance of get­ting to Christ­mas than ter­ri­ble Theresa.

She’ll try to get agree­ment on the Brexit di­vorce bill by the end of the year so that talks can be­gin on a tran­si­tional deal af­ter we leave the EU in 2019. But that won’t be enough. Once a prime min­is­ter has lost the con­fi­dence of her col­laps­ing cab­i­net, her back­benchers and the coun­try, she’ll be shuf­fled off just like Thatcher.

The Gov­ern­ment is in chaos, deeply di­vided, lack­ing vi­sion and a dis­grace to past ad­min­is­tra­tions.

It’s be­ing led by a prime min­is­ter with no au­thor­ity as the fish rots from the head.

It is time for her to go and give the elec­torate the strong and sta­ble gov­ern­ment it re­ally needs.

I’ve seen the fu­ture. And it’s not Priti for May.

OUT Priti Pa­tel

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