WHEN the Conservative Party lost faith in Theresa May, she was persuaded to resign rather than face a vote of no confidence which undoubtedly would have gone against her.
Her resignation did at least spare her the embarrassment of being effectively voted out of office by her own MPs.
Might be the same modus operandi be used to get rid of Boris Johnson?
As things stand, and despite a pair of crushing defeats in by-elections, it would look unlikely. And the door has been shut on the option of a vote of confidence as MPs have burned the option.
But there is no disputing that support for the beleaguered PM is draining away.
In one sense what matters is not the verdict of MPs but the verdict of constituency members and activists. How long before we get MPs who had backed Boris saying that having listened to grassroots supporters, the writing might be on the wall - and in big letters?
Of course you can read into by-elections in different ways and the Conservatives appear to be falling back on the usual lines of defence, namely any party in government suffers in one-off elections by voters sitting on their hands in protest to deliver a political punch on the nose.
"But there is no disputing that support for the beleaguered PM is draining away..."
But the scale of defeat particularly in the Tiverton by-election where there was a swing of 30% to the Liberal Democrats, is causing alarm in the Conservative Party.
Translate that swing into what might happen in Kent and you can understand why the Liberal Democrats are feeling light-headed and giddy with anticipation of what they could achieve in a general election.
Most seats in Kent, however, are a two-way fight between Labour and the Conservative with the Lib Dems placed third.
That puts them on the political podium but can they convert bronze into gold?
WHEN a major project or policy plan is announced that could stir up resentment or tensions in local communities, the government spin doctors get to work to head off dissent.
It’s what they get - handsomely in some cases - paid to do.
Press releases are drawn up that emphasise the benefits of whatever is planned and if it involves the word ‘mitigation’ it’s probably going to involve something large, probably noisy and most likely disruptive.
The dark arts of PR propaganda were deployed in the case of the news that the government intended to create an Inland Border Facility in Dover.
The announcement was made in 2020 to create a facility at the White Cliffs Business Park, where lorries could be checked in the post-Brexit world.
Conscious that this would throw up any number of concerns about the impact on the environment; extra congestion on the roads and general disruption around the area, the government emphasised that it would bring ‘hundreds of jobs’ to the area and £80m investment.
Sugaring the pill barely covers it.
Among its supporters were the Dover MP Natalie Elphicke, who has been an enthusiastic cheerleader of the proposal from the outset, regularly stating the government’s own line about “investment plans that are expected to top £80 million and create more than 400 local jobs.”
This positive mood was echoed by the leader of Kent County Council who in a similar vein, said: “At MP, county council and district council level, we have worked hand in glove to deliver a smart, resilient solution, and millions of pounds of investment in our area.”
The plans were "expected to inject tens of millions of pounds into the local economy and generate hundreds of new employment opportunities".
Everything appeared to be on track: a photo opportunity to mark the start of work on developing the site featured the MP digging the first sod in April.
Together with the inevitable tweet was a repetition of the extra investment the facility would bring.
Then came the unexpected news that HMRC was shelving the idea.The government said the evidence was that it was no longer required. A review showed that the existing facilities have enough capacity to deal with the flow of traffic and therefore a new site was not necessary.
The only work, such as it was, would be to restore it.
So, what did this mean for the 400 jobs and £80m investment predicted?
The answer? Well, there isn’t one. Instead, the press notice making the announcement said that scrapping the project would ‘save’ £120m. You have to admire the chutzpah if nothing else. It’s like saying you’ve ‘saved’ thousands by not buying that Porsche you had your eye on.
As to the hundreds of jobs that were promised? Not a word.