The best bit of news about Brexit for a very long time came on Wednesday afternoon. Theresa May has told Tory MPs she will stand down as prime minister as soon as a Brexit deal is agreed. She won't remain in post for the next phase of the negotiations.
Downing Street sources said a new leadership election process could begin as early as 22 May, if MPs support the prime minister's deal in parliament and Brexit happens on the expected timetable.
May’s decision reflects her utter inability to pass her Brexit proposals. This is the last desperate attempt to force them through.
May’s resignation offer unlocked more votes for her deal. Sniffing a chance to run for the leadership, Boris Johnson said he would now back it.
Pauline Latham, a member of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group (ERG) said she will now vote for the Brexit deal.
“May’s made the right decision, she’s read the mood of the party—which is a surprise,” said Latham.
But ERG sources later said that between 15 and 30 of its members would not back the deal. The Financial Times newspaper reports, "Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister, was hugged by colleagues at a meeting of the faction after a highly emotional speech. Referring to Mrs May’s offer to resign, he said: 'I’m consumed with a ferocious rage after that pantomime'.
"Referring to those backing the deal, he added, 'These fools and knaves and cowards are voting on things they don’t understand.'"
And the bigots of the DUP also said they were still against May's deal. The crisis continues because with the ERG split and the DUP opposed, May currently stands little chance of victory in a new vote on her deal.
In an effort to ramp up the pressure, May’s aides told Tory MPs that if they continue to block her plan she could stay on in Downing Street. “You can only have new leadership for the second phase of Brexit if you’ve completed the first phase,” said one.
An attempt by MPs on Wednesday evening to consider alternatives to May's deal ended in deadlock. Eight alternatives were considered but all of them were defeated.
There needs to be more pressure to get May out now and then drive out all the Tories.
The fall of any Tory prime minister is a cause to rejoice. May has always represented a bitterly ruling class and racist set of politics. She backed all the austerity measures that have spread poverty and hardship.
The truest thing she ever said was, “You know what some people call us—the nasty party”.
But she also added her own racist twists.
In May 2012 while home secretary, she told the Daily Telegraph of her intention “to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”.
May also pushed an aggressive advertising campaign directed at immigrants. The adverts, in the form of mobile advertising hoardings, told immigrants to “go home or face arrest”, with an image of a person in handcuffs.
They were used in six London boroughs with large ethnic minority populations.
At the Tory Party Conference in October 2011, while arguing that the Human Rights Act needed to be amended, May claimed a foreign national had been allowed to remain in Britain, “Because—and I am not making this up—he had a pet cat". She was making it up.
May strongly supported the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and defended selling arms to Saudi Arabia. She insisted that Britain’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia was “helping keep people on the streets of Britain safe”.
May has repeatedly restricted freedoms.
In 2011 after a few shops had some windows broken on the day of a TUC march, she curbed the right to protest. This included giving police extra powers to remove masked individuals and to police social networking sites to prevent illegal protest without police consent or notification.
She voted against lowering the age of consent for gay people in 1998 and against greater adoption rights for gay people in 2002.
May was an appropriate leader for the Tories in crisis—racist, robotic and, when chosen because she wasn’t Boris Johnson, reliable.
But as the myth of strong and stable government turned to total and utter chaos she is only able to unite people against her. Her departure won’t close the divisions in the Tories.
Every striker, every campaigner, every anti-racist, everyone who has fought the Tories has played their part in her decision to offer to resign.
Defiance is fruitful.