“I take refuge under the impenetrable arch of probability” said Poincare—the mathematician, but the French President of the same name might have adhered to the same doctrine. It remains good advice for politicians, and for those writing about politics. So: there are excellent reasons to expect that Theresa May will shortly be obliged to stand down as leader of the Conservative Party, hence as Prime Minister of Great Britain. Here are some.
Next week May must present to the Commons the final version of her Withdrawal Agreement, details of which are not yet known. The prospects of it being passed are not good. The twin pillars of the arch of probability are:
- The Labour Party, together with the ScotNats, has every interest in bringing down the Government if it can.
- A considerable number of Tory MPs have a direct personal interest in a change of Government. Their life-chances leap upwards when Theresa May goes. They won’t say it openly but if they can find decent reasons for voting against her Withdrawal Agreement, they will.
And they can. The Attorney General, Sir Geoffrey Cox, has to return from Brussels bearing some finely-tuned variations on the Irish back-stop arrangements, and he must put them before a band of eight lawyers who will assay their worth. The lawyers are experts; an expert is someone who disagrees with other experts. I cannot see Sir Geoffrey getting a 100% vote of confidence from what is known as the “Star Chamber.” Some of them might like a shot at Sir Geoffrey’s job, which goes with the Government. As for the D.U.P., the Ulster supporters of the Government, they have form. In the nineteenth century it was said that every time a mainland politician came up with the answer to the Irish question, the Irish changed the question.
We shall soon see. Probability is not the only guide to the future, but it will do to be going on with.