Leadership rumours are surfacing again.
The big beast here is Boris again, who has woken from his quiescent slumbers. The week before The Big Speech by the PM about Brexit, he gave his own "vision" of what Brexit should be - not necessarily agreeing with the PM - in a lengthy article. He allegedly then backed that up by threatening to resign if his demands weren't met. The speech is seen as, while not agreeing with him entirely, nonetheless giving way somewhat to his demands, and he's now apparently "set red lines" that the PM must adhere to over the next two years.
[some details: apparently the two-year transition period the PM is asking for was meant to be longer, and she had been going to leave open the possibility of continued payments to the EU to buy continued access to the single market, but Johnson vetoed this.]
Now, a Foreign Secretary talking about foreign policy shouldn't be a huge thing. But this is foreign policy that the PM has taken personal responsibility for. What's more, it's foreign policy that she specifically took OUT of his remit by appointing a separate Brexit minister outside of Johnson's Foreign Office.
If May sacks Johnson, she's in trouble: it looks like the government's in chaos, plus Johnson still has a huge grass-roots support, even if the shine has come off him a bit over the last year. One MP is quoted anonymously in The Sun as saying that Boris "is a martyr. He put his neck on the line to save Brexit". If he declares war against her, it'll be hard for her to survive. On the other hand, if she doesn't sack Johnson, she's in trouble, because it looks like she's under his thumb. Plus, that won't make his rivals happy.
So far it looks like she's not sacking him (one compromise would be to keep him fo now then sack him when the cameras are turned off, over some trivial issue). But his rivals are clearly angry. The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has openly attacked him for 'backseat driving'. The Brexit minister, David Davis, refused to comment on that attack, except to joke/not-joke that the Brexit car only has two seats, for him and for the PM (so Boris isn't in the car at all). Davis has also claimed that Johnson's article/threats have had no effect on the policies. Old big beasts like Ken Clarke and Lord Hague have condemned Boris in particular and factionalism in general - they're not active power players, but they're famous enough to be heard.
Also angry is the Chancellor, Philip Hammond. Johnson has claimed, it is claimed, that Hammond wanted a five-year transition, and that only Boris saved Brexit by insisting on two years. Hammond, however, is claimed to claim to have always wanted two years. Aides and allies of Hammond have been quoted saying "this is total bullshit", "I fucking hate having to deal with Boris", and "now fucking Boris is gloating."
Also wading into the fight? Sir David Norgrove, Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, who has condemned Boris for "a clear misuse of official statistics". The issue here is the infamous "£350m a week". In the referendum campaign, Leave claimed that with Brexit we would get back £350m every week, which could be spent on the NHS. Since then, people have noticed that a) there isn't £350bn (that's the gross payments to the EU, not taking into account payments back from the EU to the UK), and b) nobody has any intention of spending any of it on the NHS anyway. The number has been quietly shelved. But now Boris' "vision" repeats the claim, and he's even been claimed to have claimed to have forced May to promise that all of the £350m a week that we'll get back (which, reminder, doesn't exist), will be spent on the NHS (which it won't). Freed from the purdah of a referendum campaign, Norgrove has taken the opportunity to, almost without precedent, slap a cabinet minister around the head a bit.
Now, all of this would be pretty chaotic stuff. But for some extra fun? It's just been revealed that Johnson, Rudd, Davis and Hammond were all plotting together to sack May after the election result came in - apparently Hammond texted Boris at 4am to pledge his support if Boris wanted to execute May. Technically this doesn't really matter - it was a long time ago, in political terms, and everyone knew that some plotty stuff was going on, it was inevitable. But the revelation that all these people snarling at each other in public not long ago were plotting together in private, and that they're all on some level willing to backstab the leader they're all so publically devoted to, has come out at a really inapposite time!
Meanwhile, there have been a few mutterings over goings on in Scotland. A while back, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party (structurally autonomous, though affiliated to the national Labour Party), came out as a lesbian, and this has cause some unrest. First, because she now claims that she was outed against her will by a left-wing newspaper - she says that, yes, she has always told everyone who asked that she was a lesbian, in multiple interviews, but that it was meant to be kept secret from the public. Specifically she says she told the paper that she'd rather they not tell people about it because she didn't think it mattered. The paper has apologised. Others, however, have suggested that a) if a politician makes a statement on the record, it's legitimate to report it, and you can't take it off the record retrospectively, and if she didn't want it on the record she shouldn't have answered the question on the record, it would have been easy enough to ask for the question not to be asked (since everyone In The Know already knew the answer), and that b) if a politician really wants something taken off the record for personal reasons, maybe a general comment about "I don't think it really matters" maybe isn't the best way to communicate that, and that perhaps as a result setting a theoretically friendly activist paper up for lynching for having failed to understand that hint isn't entirely fair.
And on a sillier level, second: nobody really cares that she's dating a woman, or even that she broke up with her long-term partner just a few months after proposing to her, but apparently there's been some disquiet among Labour activists that she did this to go out with another MSP (member of the scottish parliament)... from a rival party. Labour aren't in their happy-clappy love-your-neighbour phase right now, it's fai to say.
Anyway, she didn't officially give that as a reason for resigning. She didn't really give much of a reason at all, but she's specifically denied that she resigned because she was about to be sacked by Corbyn-allied activists. She's the third leader of the Scottish Labour Party to resign in the last three years!
So now they need a successor. The frontrunner from her right-wing branch of the party is a guy who's been attacked for the fact he was until right now the co-owner of a company that refused to pay workers a living wage. And his supporters are blaming the acting leader of the party for setting him up (making a public statement about the party needing to side with the people, not with millionaires, while knowing that the frontrunner for the leadership is a multi-millionaire with a record of exploitation).
And now the acting leader has turned on the former leader, very politely, by complaining about the the fact that she resigned having given him only ten minutes notice...
But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping
as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh
I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!