Another week in the countdown to Brexit. Another week in the painful life and coming death of the Theresa May premiership. But another week in which her ever louder, prouder and more vocal opponents failed to back up their words with deeds.
The European Research Group (ERG), as the caucus of hardcore Brexiteers (and increasingly the proto Boris leadership campaign) is known, had said this would be the week in which they published their Brexit plan. This would be the detailed, credible alternative to Theresa May’s Chequers proposal, or the soft Brexit idea of joining the EEA alongside Norway.
But the week has come and gone and… nothing. No plan published. No alternative vision presented to the public. Instead we had leaks about what their plan would involve (including, bafflingly, a ‘star wars’ style UK defence shield and a taskforce to the Falklands) and a meeting which led to the ERG briefing that up to 50 MPs openly plotted about when and how they would bring down Theresa May.
Quietly, the Prime Minister’s position is actually strengthening. Not much, but a little. Nobody thinks Chequers is perfect. Everyone knows it is flawed. But as every week goes by without any credible alternative, it starts to look ever more like it might be the only show in town, assuming that the no deal cliff edge is unconscionable and EEA membership politically unsellable.
She has huge hurdles to overcome, and a bearpit of a party conference to survive. But, despite the daily dose of hysterical headlines, this has been a quietly better week for our embattled, beleaguered but seemingly indefatigable Prime Minister.