As ever on a Sunday, Tim Shipman provides compelling reading. His write-through of the tragicomedy in Cabinet is replete with detail, right down to the Prime Minister rolling her eyes at Philip Hammond.
But there is one point in particular that leapt out at me – in the contents of a briefing delivered to the assembled ministers:
‘In No 10 there had been advocates of May shaking things up by calling a snap general election. Any notion that this was an attractive notion had been swiftly expunged earlier on Tuesday when cabinet ministers were given a presentation by the party chairman, Brandon Lewis, and the chief executive, Mick Davis.
Shellshocked cabinet ministers listened as party chiefs explained that their internal polling showed that “Labour leads on all domestic issues”, with the cost of living, the NHS and the environment topping voters’ lists of concerns. Davis explained that the party did not have enough money in the bank. He also argued for a different approach on Brexit, warning that business was “grotesquely unprepared for no deal”.’
In sum, misery upon misery. But here’s the bit that grabbed me: ‘Davis explained that the party did not have enough money in the bank.’
This confirms something we have been hearing whispers of – just as ordinary members have been quitting or withholding their voluntary efforts, many donors are reportedly unwilling to give any more, either because they are fed up with the personality and policy currently occupying the helm, or because they reason they may as well hold off until there is a new leader in place to work with. This has already started to bite in various ways, and is alleged to be getting worse.
It may be that Davis’s report persuaded the Cabinet that their Party can’t afford to fight a snap General Election. But I wonder: have they considered that the same might apply to a possible European election?
Fighting such a campaign would be a massive uphill struggle even with a full warchest, given the widespread anger over Theresa May’s Brexit retreats and dilutions. If the cupboard is bare, it will be even worse.