Mon, 20 May 2024

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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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George Osborne: Theresa May’s premiership has become 'a second-rate horror film'

Agnes Chambre

4 min read

George Osborne has likened Theresa May’s premiership to a “second rate horror film” after she insisted she will lead the Conservatives into the next election.

The former Chancellor also used a blistering leader column in the Evening Standard - which he now edits - to compare Mrs May to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Speaking during a visit to Japan, Mrs May said she was "not a quitter" and had no intention of leaving Downing Street, despite the Conservatives' disastrous election.

But the Standard leader said: "Like the Living Dead in a second-rate horror film, the premiership of Theresa May staggers on oblivious. This was not supposed to be in the script.

"It was universally acknowledged by Tory MPs after her disastrous, wooden performance in the election campaign that she could never lead them in to an election again. To stave off an immediate execution in June, she adopted two tactics.

"First, like King Charles I before her, she offered up the heads of her deeply unpopular advisers instead. “It wasn’t my fault that I’ve alienated my entire Cabinet and produced a vote-destroying manifesto, it was theirs,” she pleaded.

"Second, she told Tory MPs: “You don’t have to go to the trouble of getting rid of me, I’ll jump before I’m pushed.”

It went on: "The settled assumption until this week was that Mrs May would soak up all the damage to the party’s reputation coming in the Brexit negotiations and then hand the premiership over in the summer of 2019 to an unsullied successor.

"This morning, those MPs have woken up to discover that Mrs May wants to go on and on — an announcement that appropriately came on a visit close to North Korea."

The editorial said the announcement had left MPs with the dilemma of “mutiny against a bad captain and the risk of getting shot” or “resigning themselves to going down with the ship”.

It said Mrs May was now "in office but not in power" and added: "For the country it means we continue to have a rudderless government when we face huge challenges beyond Brexit, as our economy falls behind and our place in the world is diminished. Britain deserves a better movie than this."

Scathing Evening Standard editorials have become routine since Mr Osborne - who was sacked by Mrs May - took the helm earlier this year.

He previously described the Tory commitment to reduce migration to the tens of thousands - which he backed at the last two elections - “economically illiterate”, insisting no-one else in the Cabinet agrees with it.

And he said Mrs May’s constant refrain about “strong and stable leadership” was “little more than a slogan” and on the night of the general election, described her as a “dead woman walking”.

Just last week, he accused the Prime Minister of using "false information" to justify her crackdown on foreign students who overstay their visas.

Reaction among Tory MPs to Mrs May's announcement has been mixed.

One backbencher toold PoliticsHome: "Most people will see the comments as necessary and expected. Giving an end date is career death.

"Most of us just want her and the rest of government just to get on with the job."

But a former minister said: "She needs to build up trust. So many people are racked off with what went on with the election. I'm talking about moderate MPs, not just the headbangers. They lost friends in an election she didn't need to call and was a disaster.

"I was really excited when she became Prime Minister and spoke about social justice, but then nothing happened - it was just rhetoric. She told us she was going to get us out of this mess. That's fine, but do it first and then say you're going to stay on for years.

"What she's said is going to go down really badly. It implies that she's learned nothing. She needs to show a lot more humility and understanding of what's going on in the party. There's a lot of untapped anger that could break out at any time.

"There's a desire not to rock the boat because of Corbyn. If he wasn't doing so well it would be a different story."

Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps gave Mrs May 18 months to save her job and said she is currently “on trial”.

He said: "Theresa May has put a lot of emphasis on corporate boardroom responsibility and how the buck stops at the top, and I think it's too early to say, but CEOs are always judged on delivery and performance. We need to see that performance before we can possibly know how long she will stay in Downing Street."

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