I have to confess I was unimpressed by the scale of the Tory ‘Rebellion’ against Treason May at their Conference. It was literally like watching a mouse trying to roar like a lion. Sure, people whooped and hollared for Boris but essentially the same people went gaga for May the next day.
Personally, I think Tory Brexiteers are easily cowed by the glowering red-eyed monster of an opposition Party and the current fragility of their Parliamentary postion and for many Tory MPs their jobs. Not even leading critics of May like David Davis, Jacob Rees-Mogg and, of course, Boris himself are willing to call for May’s head. All this means that Tory sharks are unlikely in my eyes to circle in significant numbers to get rid of the PM.
However, maybe there is a joker in the pack which could force the issue and cause the necessary stampede of panicking Tory MPs. The DUP, May’s rarely silent coalition partners, are just the joker that could collapse the whole pack. Arlene Foster, their leader, is clearly a fan of the his work.
Obviously, how the Irish Border question is ultimately resolved will determine how the DUP view a final deal. Any hint of an Irish border will result in the DUPs swift withdrawal of support for Mrs May.
However, given their clearly conservative politics they are unlikely to want to put the Marxist hotmess that is Labour into Number 10 and they are probably about as keen on a General Election as the mass of Tory MPs. So, a change of leadership for the Tories would seem to offer them a sensible stratgically sound option to pursue.
The DUP position which is seemingly to leave the EU but maintain some ties with it through a free trade and customs agreement is seemingly and somewhat understandably popular with Northern Irish voters. A recent poll for the Belfast Telegraph found that 60% of its readers backed ‘special status’ for the province.
Northern Ireland backed Remain in the 2016 Referendum alongside Scotland by 56% to 44% (opposed, of course, by England and Wales which backed Leave) so the DUP, while being somewhat ideologically predisposed to backing Leave, have to appeal to a Remain constituency. They are skillfully squaring this circle by pragmatically asserting the primacy of Northern Irish interests.
Domestically, Stormont is still mothballed so they cannot really make a mark there so Westminster allows them to flex their muscels. This delicacy of the domestic situation however also means they will not want Comrade Corbyn in Number 10 as any settlement a government under him would broker will likely be much more sympathetic to Sinn Fein.
If it all goes wrong for Mrs May and she stabs the DUP in the back, something she has clumsily attempted to do before and failed miserably to execute effectively, they could weaponise the fear of a fresh General Election that the Prime Minister so effectively utalises to bolster herself against her and create a wave that propells Mr Johnson straight into Number 10.