Julia Hartley-Brewer: Theresa May is too weak to slap down her cabinet colleagues

Brexit: 'Cabinet tensions are damaging Theresa May, but her most dangerous leadership moment has passed' - unfinished

Mark Wallace says Theresa May's collapse of authority is damaging

Monday, July 31, 2017

Julia Hartley-Brewer has said that Theresa May is too weak to bring her rebellious cabinet colleagues into line on Brexit - and it's left her "horrified."

The Prime Minister's cabinet has been blighted by public bickering and in-fighting over recent days, much of it centring on the prospect of a transitional deal on free movement after Brexit.

May's spokesman has moved to head off the feuding this morning (July 31) by insisting that free movement will end as soon as Britain leaves the EU in March 2019. However it remains to be seen whether this will stop the back-and-forth between ministers, played out in the media.

Speaking to Conservative blogger Mark Wallace this morning, Julia said: "if Theresa May had won a stonking majority at the election, she could say to any of these ministers 'zip it, or your out on your ear' as she'd have the authority.

"The reality is, she doesn't. They're all free to keep chatting away to the newspapers.

"As a journalist, I love having cabinet ministers chit-chatting. As a Brexiteer, I'm horrified that we are trying to negotiate with the EU and other member states while we don't seem to have an agreement with our own government."

Wallace, the executive editor of ConservativeHome, concurred with Julia, saying: "This collapse of authority from the Prime Minister is hugely damaging."

However, he said "I think the most dangerous moment for her leadership of the Conservative Party has probably passed" and people know she won't lead the party in the next general election.

He thinks: "What will be interesting will be that if the Prime Minister doesn’t prove able to rein in her Cabinet ministers, at least in terms of public fighting, the question is whether the party membership will end up doing so or the wider party."

Wallace believes "people on both sides of the political aisle angling for future jobs potentially as leader of their parties."

Listen to the full interview above