Theresa May once enjoyed a reputation for being in command of her brief.
Her skills helped ensure that she retained an iron grip on the Home Office over many years and when it came to pick a new Tory leader she seemed head and shoulders above her rivals. “My pitch is simple,” she said, “I believe I’m the best person to be Prime Minister.” She was aided in her bid for power by two loyal lieutenants who ran her operation with absolute authority.
How things change. Her aides have quit, her authority lies in tatters and her government limps on with the support of DUP MPs that came at a heavy political and financial price. Before the election there was disquiet in her party at the extent to which everything had to go across her desk – removing ministers from key decisions. Having failed to increase her Commons majority, and having lost seats in the process, she’s gone from ruling the roost to just about clinging on to it.
Cabinet colleagues, once sidelined, are now emboldened enough to contradict her in public as they retake the reins on matters of policy. Nowhere is this more clear than on the central issue of Brexit.
Chancellor Philip Hammond is engaged in a power struggle with Brexit secretary David Davis, favouring as he does a “softer landing” with longer transitional arrangements. Where May’s word was once dominant, ministers now vie for dominance. Her critics, and there are many, claim she is in office but not in power.
This understates her position, but only slightly Yes, she’s PM – but for how long?
Her safety is currently only guaranteed by the horror with which Tory MPs greet the prospect of another election. Her manifesto commitments have evaporated, and with it her crusading zeal. She appears now to be a managerial figure, holding together a fractious court where once she enjoyed absolute control.
May’s in for a rough ride, and it’s just not clear that she’s up to it.
Why I'm unlikely to log back into Facebook
I used to revel in not being on Facebook (I left the platform in 2009 and didn’t look back) but these days it feels as if my decision amounts to professional negligence. After all, it’s where so many people consume their news. The thing is, I’m turned off by Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose campaign for President of the United States is only marginally more annoying than his efforts to become God. His recent speech on how the social network is basically a religion is unlikely to see me logging back in.
David Davis doesn't quite get businesses involved as Brexit advisers
Brexit Secretary David Davis is bringing business into the fold with the formation of a business advisory council to discuss all things Brexit. The group will be made up of representatives from the CBI, IoD and other membership organisations. One top City voice rang me to lament the lack of actual business people involved. He has a point. The membership groups play a good role but there must be room for some people who actually run firms. There are plenty of them out there, on both sides of the Brexit debate.
One of London's best summer parties... at the US embassy
To Winfield House, the largest private residence in London after Buckingham Palace. Alas, nobody resides there at the moment. At least not until the new US ambassador arrives. Still, this didn’t stop the annual 4th of July celebration at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park last night. Each year the grounds of this magnificent house swell with American ex-pats, diplomats and party-goers. Here’s hoping the new ambassador, Woody Johnson, carries this tradition on when he arrives, as it’s one of the top parties of London’s summer season.
Bye bye to the British Bankers’ Association. After 98 years as the voice of the industry the group wound up this week ahead of its relaunch in the umbrella group of six other financial trade organisations, UK Finance. I’m told that Finance UK was considered as a name, but there were concerns over the resulting acronym. BBA chief executive Anthony Browne, who raised a glass to the group at its summer bash earlier this week, is moving on to chair another industry group – away from banking. Watch this space.