A few weeks ago, Eamonn McCann reassured the Assembly that the Brexit referendum would split the Tory party apart. He clearly believed (as did many of us) that we were on our way to a Remain vote.
That certainly would have been messy for the Tories, and would not (as David Cameron hoped) necessarily have resolved the matter for a generation. But Brexit is likely to provide the Tories with some substantial closure on the matter.
So instead it is the Labour party that’s headed for a bloody and horribly inconclusive civil war. And Tory politicians like Nigel Evans (on the Daily Politics this am) can barely contain their glee.
There’s talk of legal challenge forcing Corbyn to get the required support of MPs and MEPs (whilst the latter still exist) before he’s allowed to run. Any decision in that regard would be a political one. And not necessarily helpful to either side.
The party’s membership (albeit it one ‘packed’ with party opponents) is in open revolt against elected members: and one that perhaps needs to be allowed to follow through to its inevitable (if, disastrous) conclusion.
Leading Corbynite Jon Trickett has also just called for a general election [In July? – Ed] Yeah, I know. Presumably in the mistaken (and self-harming?) belief that Britain has a Presidential rather than a parliamentary constitution.
Never mind that Ms May once thought the same, when it was more convenient for her to do so…
— Alex Mitchell (@MitchellAT) July 11, 2016
I have said before they are now just making it all up. Theresa May says she doesn’t want one in the short term. But, of course, if a weakened Labour party is giving her an opportunity to strengthen her mandate, the offer may be too generous to refuse.
The fixed term parliament act makes it impossible for any government party to cut and run to the country without the connivance of at least the main opposition party. Indeed, almost every other party stands to profit from Labour’s current confusion and weakness.
She could do with a boost in her mandate for what are likely to be some tricky times ahead.
And Labour? Who knows? More to the point, who cares? Old party loyalists are rallying round Angela Eagle. But it is hard to escape the feeling that she’s little more than a stalking horse to test the appetite of the current membership for change.
An Autumn election for a party which cannot agree on who its leader is likely to a grim affair. But it would at least provide material evidence of whether it still has an offering the electorate are still interested in. Or not.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty