It has been another bad week for the Prime Minister. Brexit Minister David Davis threatened to quit the Cabinet if Theresa May did not change her proposal to set a time limit on the ‘backstop’ idea, a policy which is essentially the back-up plan to ensure no ‘hard border’ in Ireland. Brexiteers were concerned that if no end date was agreed this ‘backstop’ plan would tie Britain to the EU indefinitely. Davis represents the side of the Brexiteers in May’s cabinet, which leans towards those who supported Remain. Theresa May seems to have buckled to the demands of the Brexit Secretary, agreeing to impose a time limit on the so-called ‘backstop’. The Prime Minister is supposed to manage her
Cabinet through consensual leadership. It seems that May has neither the cooperation of her Ministers nor the ability to make them comply with her decisions.
As if the Prime Minister’s Cabinet did not pose enough issues for her, she also faces pressure from within her party on the issue of abortion in Northern Ireland following the referendum in the Republic of Ireland. High profile Conservative MPs such as former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, have expressed support for change in NI. Theresa May has resisted calls to amend the law, insisting it is a devolved matter. However, the devolved government in Stormont has not been operational in over a year, and it shows no sign of being resurrected anytime soon. When May formed her pact with the DUP after the election last year, she would never have anticipated that abortion would become an issue. As long as the Prime Minister needs the DUP to maintain a majority, she will be immobilised on the issue of abortion in NI.
Theresa May is a Prime Minister unable to act according to her own leadership instincts. So often has May reneged on her own principles, that she is now difficult to take seriously as a strong Prime Minister. While she continues to cling onto her own post, many now view Theresa May as merely an interim Prime Minister who will only be left in place until someone stronger is ready to take up the post.