Theresa May is heading for a walking holiday in Switzerland. Given that the idea of a General Election came to her during a yomp in Wales, we can expect her to do a bit of thinking in the Alps.
One doesn’t need to be a mind reader to determine that her political vulnerability will likely occupy her thoughts. While the cat’s away, the mice will play. Much of the current chatter surrounding the issue of May’s future focuses on David Davis and Boris Johnson.
The former has a strong support base in the party who see him as a safe pair of hands who has successfully mastered his Brexit brief. The latter doubtless retains ambition but faces a number of obstacles – not least a growing movement against him among fellow MPs, who don’t drink the Johnson kool-aid.
The main issue preventing any overt campaign against May is the utter terror that the prospect of another election generates in the Tory party. The feeling is that trying out another unelected PM would lead to overwhelming pressure for another election – one that they’re not yet ready to fight. I understand that a group of anxious backbenchers recently prepared a letter calling for May to go, but were talked out of publishing it after taking outside counsel.
Their numbers were deemed too small to inflict real damage. Meanwhile, Labour exists in a state of dreamland, convinced that the next election is in the bag.
Moderate Labour MPs are more realistic, with one telling me that while the Tories will analyse why they failed to perform at the last election and will take action to make sure the same mistakes aren’t repeated (including changing the leader when the time comes), the Labour leadership naively feels that one more push is all that’s needed to achieve the socialist revolution.
May knows that she is now a caretaker Prime Minister, yet she cannot be sure of how long she will serve or in what form a challenge will come. All of this means that scaling the highest peak in the Alps will be easy compared to the next parliamentary session.
The countdown to the City A.M. Awards begins
Not to depress you, but the days are already getting shorter. Here at City A.M. that generally means one thing: the countdown to our annual awards is on. Each year we launch a search for the City’s best and brightest, a process which is presided over by a panel of judges including Sir Martin Sorrell, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Mark Kleinman, Luke Johnson and other top bosses and commentators. You’ll have until late September to get your own nominations in, ahead of the fabulous awards night in early November.
As David Davis prepares for another round of face-to-face negotiations with the EU’s Michel Barnier, former top Treasury official Nick Macpherson recalls the insights of Lord Myners, who hosted the Frenchman at the Treasury in 2011. Apparently Myners saw Barnier coming down a long hall, stopping in front of every painting on display. At first he thought him a fellow art lover, before realising that “he was actually looking at his reflection in the glass on every painting, adjusting his hair or his toupee...”
The Isles of Scilly beckon
Gone are the days when one could reliably assume that the news slowed down in the summer. In the early days, City A.M. didn’t even print in August. Still, we all deserve a break and mine starts today, with two weeks back home on the Isles of Scilly. In my absence you’ll find this page taken over by esteemed guests from the worlds of politics and business. I’m sure there will be plenty going on to keep them busy while I’m fishing and generally whiling away the days on islands that make up the most beautiful part of the country. See you in a few weeks...
Time for some summer wine
Speaking of summer holidays, this is the time of year when rosé comes into its own. The paler the better, in my opinion. You can find gorgeous examples from Spain, Italy and South Africa but France takes the crown when it comes to this gem – especially Provence. The good news is that it needn’t break the bank. Indeed, top barristers have offered their pick for the latest issue of Counsel magazine and were “blown away” by Lidl’s £6 Cotes de Gasgone. Alas, there’s no Lidl on Scilly so I’d better get my Wine Society order in sharpish.