Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, uses a microphone  during the ceremony of switching on the lights of the Christmas tree in Downing Street, in central London, Britain December 6, 2018.  REUTERS/ Toby Melville
Theresa May will likely face a leadership challenge in the coming weeks. REUTERS

Sharks circle Theresa May as crucial Brexit vote looms

With practically all British political opinion in accord that prime minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement will fail to pass a vote in the House of Commons next week, machinations in her Conservative party are gearing up about who will lead them after her apparently inevitable departure.

As ever, the name of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is on everyone’s lips, with a recent survey by the Conservative Home website – seen as the house journal of the party – confirming his status as the most popular putative leader among party activists with 24% of support from the 1,472 respondents to the monthly poll.

And in an interview granted to the website on Friday, it’s quite clear that Mr Johnson is sketching out his platform for a leadership bid. He unequivocally trashed Mrs May’s deal, while urging that she put it to a vote in the House of Commons, hopeful perhaps of forcing a crisis that he could benefit from.


Read more:

Theresa May’s Brexit deal under fire as legal advice stiffens opposition

Sightline with Tim Marshall: What next for Brexit?

UK's Theresa May accused of misleading parliament

Theresa May kicks off crucial Brexit session after three humbling defeats


And he accepted that a hard Brexit could be painful in the short-term, but that Britain had enough resolve to tackle any problems thrown at it.

“I don’t want to pretend to the public there would be no disruption at all. I don’t want to pretend there would be no challenges at all. But what people I think want to see is a bit of gumption from this country and a bit of willingness to tackle those problems, and a bit of leadership. And I think people are fed up of being told their country can’t do something and we’re all incapable of sorting out these logistical problems.”

Second in the Conservative Home poll was home secretary Sajid Javid, although his 12% of support was down from the previous month by 7% as he is viewed by the hardline party membership as being soft on Brexit. To this end, he is said to have enrolled Andrea Leadsom, leader of the house and from the right of the party, as part of a dream ticket that could unite the party.

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt is also being spoken of as a possible leader. A supporter of Remain before the referendum in 2016, he forged a unique position by subsequently saying that he would vote leave if he had the chance again. A tenacious character, Mr Hunt survived as health secretary, a position with curious resonance in the UK, for almost six years despite widespread opposition within the National Health Service.

Mr Hunt is rumoured to be preparing a bid with Michael Gove as his number two, with the environment secretary providing Brexit ballast for his colleague. Their cabinet colleague Liz Truss was overheard this week saying that she thought Mr Hunt or Mr Javid would get the job, but was scathing about Mr Gove, saying that “everybody hates” him.

Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, is also seen to be on manoeuvres. Earlier this week it was noted that Ms Mordaunt had started following lots of Conservative party associations and politicians on Twitter, which was interpreted as a predatory move.

While the timetable for a contest is unknowable, it’s likely that events will take a fast turn after Tuesday when the withdrawal bill is voted on in the House of Commons. At a cabinet meeting on Thursday it was mooted that if the scale of debate is kept under 200 MPs, then the prime minister would attempt to carry on.

Although this might be an example of crisis management, with more than 300 opposition MPs committed to voting against, and with upwards of 100 Conservatives – of both Remain and Leave hues – having publicly stated their opposition to Mrs May’s deal, it’s quite possible that the prime minister could be forced out of office within weeks.

This explains the feverish nature of plotting taking place in Westminster. However, the Conservative party will be well aware of the risks of engaging in another leadership election. Mrs May was elevated to her position by default in 2016, after David Cameron resigned following the Brexit vote. There was no campaign as all her rivals wilted away in the face of her overwhelming popularity.

Barring an extension of Article 50, the date for leaving the European Union is just over three months away, meaning there is no time for the party to engage in a proper leadership contest. The likelihood is that a fumbled election for a figure incapable of unifying the Conservatives will just lead to more pain for the party and the nation.

Quick pearls of wisdom

Focus on gratitude: And do so deeply, he says. “Think of one to three things a day that you’re grateful for. It needs to be specific, too, don’t just say ‘air.’ Really think about it. If you’re grateful for, say, what your parents have done for you, that will motivate you to do more for the world.”

Know how to fight: Shetty married his wife, Radhi, three years ago (he met her in a meditation class before he went off and became a monk). He says they’ve had to learn to respect each other’s “fighting styles” – he’s a talk it-out-immediately person, while she needs space to think. “When you’re having an argument, remember, it’s not you against each other. It’s both of you against the problem. When you win, they lose. If you’re on a team you have to win together.” 

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8

Transmission: nine-speed automatic

Power: 630bhp

Torque: 900Nm

Price: Dh810,000

How it works

Each player begins with one of the great empires of history, from Julius Caesar's Rome to Ramses of Egypt, spread over Europe and the Middle East.

Round by round, the player expands their empire. The more land they have, the more money they can take from their coffers for each go.

As unruled land and soldiers are acquired, players must feed them. When a player comes up against land held by another army, they can choose to battle for supremacy.

A dice-based battle system is used and players can get the edge on their enemy with by deploying a renowned hero on the battlefield.

Players that lose battles and land will find their coffers dwindle and troops go hungry. The end goal? Global domination of course.


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The specs

Engine: Dual permanently excited synchronous motors
Power: 516hp or 400Kw
Torque: 858Nm
Transmission: Single speed auto
Range: 485km
Price: From Dh699,000

The Specs

Lamborghini LM002
Engine: 5.2-litre V12
Power: 450hp at 6,800rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 4,500rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
0-100kph: 9 seconds (approx)
Top speed: 210kph (approx)
Years built: 1986-93
Total vehicles built: 328
Value today: $300,000+

6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-3 Group 1 (PA) | US$95,000 | (Dirt) 2,000m
7.05pm: Meydan Classic Listed (TB) ) | $175,000) | (Turf) 1,600m
7.40pm: Handicap (TB) ) | $135,000 ) | (D) 1,600m
8.15pm: Nad Al Sheba Trophy Group 3 (TB) ) | $300,000) | (T) 2,810m
8.50pm: Curlin Handicap Listed (TB)) | $160,000) | (D) 2,000m
9.25pm: Handicap (TB)) | $175,000) | (T) 1,400m
10pm: Handicap (TB) ) | $135,000 ) | (T) 2,000m

A Prayer Before Dawn

Director: Jean-Stephane Sauvaire

Starring: Joe Cole, Somluck Kamsing, Panya Yimmumphai

Three stars


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Most Read
Top Videos

View from London

Your weekly update from the UK and Europe

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      View from London