The Queen’s Speech and the Brexit talks have been postponed – this is not a functioning government

Chaos doesn't begin to describe it


‘Now let’s get to work,’ Theresa May said on the steps of Downing Street on Friday morning, claiming that ‘what the country needs more than ever is certainty’ and that only the Conservatives could offer it.

Three days later, David Davis has suggested that the Brexit talks will not start next Monday as they were scheduled to, because of a clash with the Queen’s Speech. And a Downing Street spokesperson has implied that the Queen’s Speech will also be delayed while the Tories try to hammer out an agreement with the DUP, to ensure the speech will win the support of parliament.

If the so-called Conservative government cannot set out its legislative priorities or meet its international obligations, the obvious question is this: in what sense does it constitute a government at all?

Britain has come to expect that the Tories will put party before country, but at this stage the chaos in the party is bringing the country to a standstill. Moreover, there is no clarity from within the cabinet on what decisions are being made and why, on what legislation is likely to be included in the Queen’s Speech, on what stage negotiations with the DUP are at or on how the government plans to proceed with Brexit negotiations.

Downing Street has repeatedly misrepresented the state of government-forming negotiations over the last few days. It’s only thanks to the DUP’s clarifications that we know they haven’t confirmed their support for May.

And through all this, the prime minister is invisible, holed up in Downing Street refusing to offer any reassurance to a country without a functioning government.

A second election is not an appealing prospect,  but it’s becoming difficult to see an alternative.

Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

See also: Did Rupert Murdoch ask Theresa May to put Michael Gove back in the cabinet?

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