PM must crush this al­liance of ar­ro­gance

The Mail on Sunday - - Comment -

PO­LIT­I­CAL par­ties die with­out dis­ci­pline. Politi­cians tend to have large egos, and – if not re­strained – can de­stroy their own move­ments by pur­su­ing their own am­bi­tions. Some­one has to stop them.

And some­one cer­tainly should stop Boris John­son and Michael Gove, now once again play­ing self­ish power games as they try, with out­ra­geous ar­ro­gance, to in­flu­ence the Prime Min­is­ter’s ap­proach to Brexit and force her on to a hard-line course, with all the risks that brings.

This is an al­liance with an un­happy his­tory, as Mr Gove and Mr John­son can well re­mem­ber from their dan­ger­ous and tricky days im­me­di­ately af­ter the ref­er­en­dum. If these two men can­not trust each other ( and we know they can­not), why should the Prime Min­is­ter or the Cab­i­net trust them?

Their be­hav­iour is not merely ir­re­spon­si­ble and trou­ble-mak­ing. It is an act of ex­tra­or­di­nary im­per­ti­nence.

Their ac­tion, in de­liv­er­ing a se­cret let­ter to Mrs May, in which hon­eyed words and quiet men­ace are mixed, in fact of­fers the Prime Min­is­ter and wiser heads in the Cab­i­net an op­por­tu­nity. A cri­sis is of­ten a good mo­ment for de­ci­sive ac­tion, and this is such a mo­ment.

The Prime Min­is­ter can jus­ti­fi­ably say she can­not be ex­pected to put up with two of her se­nior Min­is­ters try­ing to drive the Gov­ern­ment from the back seat, not just by of­fer­ing un­wanted ad­vice but by mak­ing a grab for the steer­ing wheel.

Such be­hav­iour risks crash­ing the Gov­ern­ment – an out­come that would ben­e­fit only Jeremy Cor­byn.

Mrs May can rea­son­ably ask all sen­si­ble Min­is­ters, and all sen­si­ble Tory MPs – Re­main­ers and Brex­i­teers alike – to back her vig­or­ously. The sta­bil­ity and eco­nomic well-be­ing of the coun­try are at stake. The EU’s ne­go­tia­tors are play­ing their hand with hard de­ter­mi­na­tion and some skill. Time is slip­ping away as our fi­nal de­par­ture – now fixed – ap­proaches fast. She should tell them she re­quires their help and sup­port so she can take back con­trol.

De­spite the set­backs in the past few months, Mrs May still com­mands a healthy level of pub­lic sup­port. She is stronger than peo­ple say, and stronger than she thinks she is.

She should now over­come her nat­u­ral English re­serve and put Mr John­son and Mr Gove firmly back in their place.

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