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What the papers say: Tory Brexit infighting could hand Corbyn victory

20 September 2017

9:08 AM

20 September 2017

9:08 AM

Boris Johnson’s Brexit intervention ‘is a dismal reflection on Theresa May’s position’, says the Times. But worse than that, this Cabinet ‘disunity is corroding the Conservative brand’ – and making a Corbyn victory at the next election ever more likely. ‘In normal times,’ says the Times, ‘the case for dismissal would be unanswerable’. But while the Foreign Secretary’s popularity has ‘plummeted’ of late, he still retains ‘a talent for generating headlines when he is in the mood for trouble’. Mrs May has learnt a lesson from her brutal treatment of George Osborne, and seems determined not to repeat her mistake on that front. Yet while Boris has survived in his job for now, he ‘can stretch the perimeter of collective cabinet responsibility only so far’.  It’s natural that different members of the Cabinet want to have their own way with Brexit. But the PM ’cannot be bounced into drawing red lines that would imperil the future of the British economy’. The Tories must remember, after all, that ‘Mr Corbyn is waiting in the wings, ready to pounce if the Conservatives rip themselves apart’. If they can’t unite around Brexit,  ‘Surely they can unite around that,’ the Times concludes.

The looming threat of a Jeremy Corbyn victory is also the focus of the Sun’s editorial. The paper warns that if the PM leaves ‘Brexit voters feeling betrayed,’ it’s a sure fire way for her to ‘surrender power’ to the Labour leader. ‘The biggest democratic mandate in our history demanded we quit the EU,’ points out the Sun, which says it is vital that the PM follows through with the outcome of the referendum. This means ‘leaving the single market and customs union, controlling our borders and ­ending our membership fees’. ‘Cabinet Remainers’ are doing they best to water down this definition. Yet ‘Mrs May must not keep us tied to Brussels in any form’. So, while some – including Ken Clarke – have accused Boris of being disloyal, the Foreign Secretary is spot on: ‘Boris is speaking up for the sort of Brexit 17.4million voted for.’

When Theresa May took over from David Cameron, her colleagues were excited about ‘the return of proper Cabinet government’, says the Daily Telegraph. But in the months since, on the most important issue facing our country – Brexit – ‘the Cabinet has hardly ever met’. ‘Full-scale Cabinet meetings binding everyone to a particular course of action have been thin on the ground,’ points out the paper – and now the government is paying the price. Tomorrow, the Cabinet will meet at last to thrash out a common position on Brexit. ‘This is very late in the day, arguably too late,’ says the Telegraph. The government having a united front over Brexit ‘is essential’. ‘But in the end, this sense of drift is the consequence of a failure of leadership’, argues the Telegraph. Hopefully, on Friday when she makes her speech in Florence, the Prime Minister will ‘show she has a grip’.

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