Theresa May's terrible week
The Conservative party conference was supposed to be the prime minister's big moment, yet her keynote speech was a disaster and the overall mood was flat. So where does the party go now, and how does it find some fresh policies to beat Jeremy Corbyn? With George Parker, Henry Mance and Miranda Green of the Financial Times.
Presented by Sebastian Payne. Produced by Janina Conboye. Edited by Paolo Pascual.
Welcome to FT Politics, the Financial Times podcast on British politics. I'm Sebastian Payne, and in this week's episode, we'll be discussing the Conservative Party Conference, Tuesday's extraordinary speech, and a lack of new policy ideas and a lack of new thinking. I'm delighted to be joined by our political editor, George Parker, political correspondent Henry Mance, and political commentator Miranda Green. Thank you all for joining.
So it was the turn of the Conservatives to hold their annual gathering in Manchester this week. Until the last day, it was a pretty lifeless and dreary event. Aside from Boris Johnson-Ruth Davidson, there was no really exciting speeches, the crowd weren't very enthused, there were no new policy directions, and little substantive discussion about how to beat Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.
As I'm sure listeners know, things took a slightly different turn for the worse on the last day when Theresa May took to the stage. Her efforts to apologise to the party for June's general election and lay out her British dream was somewhat undermined by a protester handing her a P45, a coughing fit that almost curtailed the whole speech, and the stage falling apart behind her. All told, it was one of the most bizarre political speeches of modern times.
George Park, we were in the hall, and it's still slightly painful to recall at hour of torture. We were there, and we were just the journalists listening to the speech-- never mind poor Theresa May and the cabinet having to give it. Is that a fair assessment that it was bizarre and extraordinary?
And excruciating, yeah. I must have watched 20 or 30 party leaders, prime ministerial speeches at party conferences, through the years. And it was the first one I've had to watch through my fingers. It was that bad.
You and me both.
Oh my goodness.
And it was-- you were just willing her to get through it. The party tried to help out by doing the Stalinesque standing ovations, but it was awful. Of course, it wouldn't really have mattered too much if she was already in a position of strength, if she was Tony Blair in his pomp. But the problem is, of course, it just played into what people already felt about her, which is that she was a weak leader and not up to the job. And there was that classic line her speech she wanted to be the voice of the voiceless-- and then lost her voice.
The metaphors for this week have been run through thousands of newspaper columns, but if we take each of the things, obviously the P45 was this prankster who got into the hall. And there's a very good question how on earth did he get into the hall? The security at these conferences is pretty tight. Its airport-style security. And even when he was there, one of the photographers said to me, nobody tried to remove him. It was actually a Conservative Party staffer who had to drag him away. So it seems to have been a real security breach there.
A massive security breach. I suppose that you could register with your local Conservative Party and become a delegate, and he was armed with nothing more than a piece of paper with P45 written on it. But nevertheless, the fact there was no security between the audience and the prime minister-- and as you say, the fact he was able to stand in front of the prime minister for what seemed like an eternity but was probably at least a few seconds.
I was at the back and it was actually quite a long time. He kept holding that P45 and giving Boris the thumbs up.
And then sort of just sauntering along, seeming to talk to every single member of the cabinet, including people with the most secure ratings in the cabinet-- the home secretary, the defence secretary-- it was extraordinary.
And then obviously the coughing fit. Some said that this was prompted by the stress of the prank, but the fact was the prime minister hadn't been well that week and her staff had advised her not to undertake so many commitments. But Mrs. May, whatever you say about her, is a workhorse. She is devoted to the job. And she did all the engagements. She did something like six or seven broadcast interviews the day before and then had this coughing fit.
And when it happened, I looked at the paper in front of me, as I'm sure you did, and there were nine pages left to go and she seemed somewhat stranded there. It was amazing. There was no plan to sort of say, if this happens, cut to the end or go off the stage. And it was only thanks to Phil of Hammond's cough sweets in his pocket that she actually got through it.
Well yeah, it was an extraordinary thing. I think, to be honest, she would have been better off going off the stage and waiting five minutes and coming back a bit later rather than soldiering on. we've all been there. We've all been in the cinema or the theatre and you got the cough that won't stop. But I've never seen that happen to a politician. And the thing is, yes, I'm sure it's something to do with the cold, but I think it's something to do with pressure and the stress of the occasion as well. And it can happen to all of us. The problem is that prime ministers in situations of Theresa May want respect. They want to earn authority. They don't want sympathy.
And I suppose this comes to the fundamental point of all this, that politics is pretty brutal. It wasn't Neil Kinnock's fault he fell in the sea. It wasn't John Major fault in the 90s that half his cabinet were all having affairs. These things just happen, and leaders have to deal with them and dealt with the hand they're given.
Gordon Brown was dealt a very rough hand when he was prime minister, and those are the circumstance they're in, and no matter how much Theresa May is pitied and people feel sorry for her, the fact is, this week was about building political capital-- at least holding onto it-- and she's lost even more capital from the weak position she was at before.
Yeah, that's true. Once the label sticks to you, it's very hard to shake it off. And she was already marked down as a bit of a loser after the general election fiasco. Of course she won, but not anywhere near as well as she'd hoped to. And then this just made her look hapless and like a weak leader.
And so you only have to think back to the purpose of holding that election. It was to crush the saboteurs and to give her the strong mandate that would allow her to go and look Macron and Merkel in the eye in these negotiations with this strong prime minister. And now look what we're left with. It's pitiful really.
So this, of course, has reopened the leadership can of worms this week. Just when we thought the Conservative Party was taking a few days off from discussing the leadership question, it's now come back to that again and we've had this, again, a very bizarre sight of Grant Shapps, who was the disgraced former Conservative Party minister and chairman, who is the head of this cabal of up to 30--
I'd be very interested to know how big you think this cabal is-- on the TV airwaves saying that they didn't want this to be public, yet he's been on Sky News, Five Live, talk radio, LBC, putting out this leadership plot. And says that we think Theresa May needs to go. And of course this all matters, because if they can get 48 names, then the leadership contest is open, and one would assume Theresa May would not fight that leadership contest. She could, but it would be very damaging for the whole government. But what on earth is going on here? And how big is this plot? Because I don't feel it's this big at all.
No, and I think Theresa May is a bit lucky and her enemies in the case of Grant Shapps. He's someone who--
Also known as Michael Green.
--who has an alter ego, and some people in the Conservative Party regard him as something of a fantasist. And the question is, is he being a fantasist and imagining he's got these 30 or so, or up to 30 MPs behind him. Up to 30 covers a multitude of sins, doesn't it? It might be considerably less than 30.
Look, I mean just talking to people behind the scenes, there is a widespread view in the Conservative Party, whether it's remainers or leavers, that removing Theresa May would make things much, much worse. That it would throw the party into chaos, there'd be a leadership contest which will split the party on European lines. The new leader might be unable to lead the party, and the new leader will be under huge pressure to go to the country and seek their own personal mandate in a general election, which in those circumstances Labour would win. And then Brexit could be thrown up in the air.
So the scenarios that play out by removing Theresa May are awful for the Conservative Party. In a way, it doesn't matter whether Theresa May is a brilliant leader, or a waxwork, or a box of chocolates. Frankly, leaving her there is better than removing her.
Now events might change by the time our listeners are hearing this podcast, but I suppose is there any question of her resigning in your view? Because there's been lots of rumours going on Westminster that her husband had said to her back in the summer she should resign, and that she even tried to resign. But at the moment, do you think what happened in Manchester has broken her confidence enough, or do you think she'll go away for this weekend, take a deep breath and realise what you've just said. If I go, my duty to my country and my party will disappear, and things will get much worse.
Well, that calculation hasn't changed from the morning after the general election. This, in fact, is her view. There's a duty to party and country. And you're right, there are rumours that she wants to resign over that weekend. I think that would only be natural. But she was told in very clear terms by her a cabinet allies, but also by the so-called men in grey suits, the backbench 1922 committee, that she had a duty, having got the party into that situation, to carry on leading.
And frankly, that equation has not changed after a coughing fit in Manchester. It's still the same thing. Now we have no way of telling what her frame of mind is after that speech. People inside the Number 10 operations say that Philip May has hardly been away from her side since the speech, that the mood is grim. Others say that she's OK. They dispute accounts that she's extremely distraught.
What we do know is that in the immediate aftermath of the speech she went back to her house in Sunning in Berkshire with her husband, Philip, and she spent a day completely out of the limelight. She emerged on Friday to say that she was carrying on, looking forward to introducing an energy bill next week and the next round of Brexit negotiations. Business as usual. And she will have been bolstered by the fact that there has been an outpouring not just of sympathy but support from the cabinet, from all sections of the party.
So I think she's got the support to go on. But she's only human, and at what point does she think actually I can't do this anymore. Have I become more of a liability than an asset to the party? And there'll be a lot of people in the Conservative Party keeping their fingers crossed that Theresa May decides to stay on.
Well, one of the things she can do if she doesn't resign is to do something about the state of her government. As we argue in the FT Weekend Editorial, one thing she could look at is reconfiguring the cabinet. Because the cabinet as it stands was put together after the EU referendum last year, and it was very much to try and bring the remain and leave parts of the party together. People weren't necessarily given portfolios because of their aptitude, or their enthusiasm, or their performance skills.
And when you look at certain areas of the government there is a case to say, well hang on a minute. Shouldn't there be someone better here? And also this fact that there is a lot of talent on the Conservative backbenches. Some people like Nikki Morgan have gone to the Treasury Select Committee. Some others like Anna Soubry not doing anything. And there's this younger generation of 2015 and 2017 MPs who have mustered keen to get involved and take the fight to Labour.
And I think a lot of focus seems to focus on the party chairman. This is essentially the CEO of the Conservative Party, and Patrick McLoughlin, who took up this role, is well liked within the party. He is well respected. He's been around a long time. But the fingers are certainly pointing, from what I've heard, in his direction for what happened conference. The fact the stage design fell apart in middle of the speech, and the accreditation issues. And it feels like if you're going to begin to do something to reinvigorate it, that would be the natural place to start.
Well, that would be one place to start. Patrick McLoughlin was under considerable scrutiny after the election, the fact that the party wasn't ready for an election, and the conference management was a fiasco. But he's made it clear that he wants to step down. So maybe a reshuffle is required. And there are people senior in the party who are urging Theresa May to get back on the front foot by doing exactly what you said, which is to have a reshuffle and clear out some of the deadwood.
You will have sat through some of the speeches of the Tory conference, and there is a lot of dead wood to be cleared out. Some of the most leaden ministerial speeches, uninspiring, I've ever seen. Lacking in any policy in the sense of new policy ideas. And to be honest, I don't think it's just the fault of the ministers concerned, but the fact that Number 10 has been a dead hand on any original thinking in the cabinet.
But there's a counter-argument which is she's come out of Manchester even weaker. We've seen that Grant Shapps's plot is populated mainly by people who are former ministers who have grudges to bear against--
A lot of remain supporters.
A lot of remain supporters as well. And you know the advice that the chief whip, Gavin Williamson, will be giving to the prime minister is it might seem tempting to try and reassert your authority and regain the initiative by having a night of the long knives Harold MacMillan-style, but you'll end up with a load of new enemies on the back benches. And when you have a non-existent commons majority and you're very weak anyway, is that what you want to do? So that's a big strategic call for the prime minister.
And then on top of all that, we had the big FT scoop this week about the state of public finances, which is that we looked at a lot of the announcements in Manchester, which we're going to come on to later in the podcast. But the fact is Philip Hammond doesn't have that much money to play with, and the budget coming up in November is going to be tricky.
I think it was the front page of the Times this week that basically said she's one more crisis away from a meltdown because-- and there's so many points. You have the Brexit negotiations starting again next week. We've got the EU Council meeting October 19. And then all these bills for Brexit are beginning to come through Parliament. So when you look forward to the end of the year, there's still a lot of hurdles for Theresa May to get through.
Yeah, I think the overwhelming sense of the conference in Manchester was of a party that's completely trapped. There just seems to be no obvious way out. Everywhere you look is dark tunnels. You mentioned the Brexit legislation, the withdrawal bill. That comes back in October. That's going to be very complicated, very difficult. Seven separate Brexit bills to negotiate through the House of Commons and through the House of Lords.
You've got no money in the kitty it's all, a budget in November, which is going to be dominated by much more red ink than we'd expected, thanks to the fact that Britain's productivity record has remained as woeful as it has been since the financial crash. So there's no way out. You can't spend your way out of trouble. You can't come up with a domestic policy agenda either, because you haven't got any ideas. Or if you do have ideas, you might struggle to get them through Parliament without a majority.
And you've got Brexit, the one thing which splits the party more than anything else, looming in front of you. It would be a huge test for any prime minister. For a prime minister whose authority is shot and who has no Commons majority, it's like trying to climb the Matterhorn in your slippers.
The thing that I came away from that conference was the conservatives seem to have almost given up the idea of governing, which is extraordinary when you think of how long it took to get back to power, 13 years of lots of efforts to renew and try new leaders and new ideas. I mean, they never really came with anything to defeat Tony Blair. It was only once Tony Blair had gone and David Cameron had a much easier rival in the form of Gordon Brown.
But the sense that I got from the conference this year was the parties actually, after seven years of leading the country, actually just feels we can just keep things ticking over, keep things going. There's not really anything that's really driving us forward in the way that there should be.
It think that's a good point. And if you look back to David Cameron's victory in 2010, his government was given a mission by the effects of the financial crash. Austerity managing the public finances became the mission of David Cameron's government. There was overlaying with some social reforms, but essentially austerity defined that government.
Now the public are tiring of the Conservative mission, and you're looking at what else is left. And what you saw at the conference in Manchester was a party scrubbing around for ideas. And in the end, flagship ideas, which essentially were rip offs of the Ed Miliband manifesto of 2015. So in every respect, this looks like a Parliament which, as you say, has lost its will to govern. It's lost its will stick together, facing daunting political challenges.
If the optics and politics of the Conservative conference were bad, then the policies weren't much better either. Throughout the speeches from cabinet ministers that week, there was very scant of radical new policy were promised. Instead, a bit of messing about with housing, energy caps, the northern powerhouse, while on the fringes were dominated by talk of Brexit.
So Henry Mance, this conference was a moment for the Conservative Party to say, we had all these new ideas at the general election in June. Here's how we're going to implement or take some of them forward. But the thing I was really struck by the speeches in the main hall were they were very much just tinkering around the edges and full of platitudes. They weren't really much new compared to Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party was overwhelmed with ideas. Some of them might be old, but at least they were solid ideas.
Yeah, it felt to some extent like the tank was empty. I mean we did have a process fairly recently where a manifesto was put together with not many goodies in it from the Conservative Party side. And they have been unable, really, to get out of that sensation that they are really trying to eke out a government without a particular agenda.
The slight problem, Miranda Green, is that Labour has identified all of these problems with housing, with energy bills. It's come up with radical solutions based on what you might call pure socialism. So we initialise the national grid, have a huge wave of council house building. And the Conservatives have essentially said, yes, you're right on this. But here's a slightly weaker prescription.
And the whole problem with that idea amongst more blue-blooded conservatives is well, if you're acknowledging this problem, why don't you just go vote for Labour and have the whole radical things. Instead of tweaking tuition fees, just scrap tuition fees. So it did seem to me as if the party was just a bit lost, as Henry was saying.
And there's an even worse example than those that you've listed, which is on energy policy, for example. Mrs. May just announced that she was going to actually adopt a proposal put forward by Ed Miliband when he was Labour leader, which is to cap energy prices to try and deal with the living standards squeeze. So you're absolutely right. They've inched a little way towards some Labour positions, and they've adopted some Labour policies wholesale.
And it might leave a voter thinking, well, why not just buy the Labour product if the Tory product is turning into Labour lite? This is a huge issue for them. Because Mrs. May, to her great credit, when she made her first speech on the steps of Downing Street when she became prime minister, she actually sounded like somebody who understood that the country thought it was facing serious problems that the government of the day needed to address-- whether that was living standards or inequality of opportunity or indeed outcome, or indeed sort of more technocratic things like whether we have enough vocational education in this country.
But now she's in such a weakened position that it sounded as if some of the policy prescriptions that she was able to outline this week were far too little towards solving those problems. And I think those examples you listed, particularly on tuition fees and on housing, it was slightly embarrassing to hear them sort of pre-leak the idea that there was going to be a huge housing announcement and then to find out it was 5,000 houses a year over a five-year period, as if that is adequate to this to the scale of the problem that we face.
I think the problem with that, Henry, was they'd likened it to the Sun newspaper to Howard MacMillan's house-building programme where 300,000 houses were built a year, and then when the actual numbers came out, as Miranda said, it was entirely different. And she was obviously trying to go back to that initial message outside Downing Street of being the prime minister for radical change.
And it was one cabinet minister said to me at the conference, Theresa May's at her best when she's not a conventional conservative, when she challenges what you think and puts up very different ideas. And she tried to do that in her speech, the dramatic, "That's who I'm in it for." People who are oppressed, people who are discriminated against by the state. But it never seems to match up to that promise.
No, I think by instinct she's obviously a very cautious politician. There isn't that much money left in the tank. We've had a story this week showing that treasury forecasts suggest that a blood bath. But basically the money that Hammond had pencilled in to cushion the impact of Brexit is probably not really there anymore. So they don't have money to play around with.
Going back to that speech, it's right that she set out a very challenging and ambitious agenda. But I think she actually made her life far too hard last July when she put forward her view of what was wrong with Britain. We'd just had a referendum campaign in which the dominant and most successful message was, let's bring back 350 million pounds and spend most of it on the NHS.
Now that might be an impossibility, but she should have picked up that, run with it, and said we'll find 350 million pounds, however it may be, and we're going to spend on public policies. And then she would have got some kind of feel-good factor, some kind of idea that the government was taking from say wealthy landowners, say the rich, and putting it into services that people care for.
She also made a lot of other mistakes at that point, Henry, I'm sure you'd agree, one of which was actually trying to expend political capital that she didn't really have on slightly nutty ideas like loads more grammar schools, for example, and that proposal, of course, is completely gone now. Haven't heard about that for a long time.
She was, of course, saddled with a bunch of terrible things from the 2015 Tory manifesto, which they thought they weren't going to have to do because they thought they were going to be in coalition, not least these very, very ambitious swinging welfare cuts which have caused quite a lot of the political backlash against the government at the moment. So you're right, she had a sort of hard-line interpretation of Brexit, very uncompromising, and possibly only chose the messages she wanted to hear from the referendum vote and the referendum result.
I think that's a very good point you've picked up on there, Henry, because she became prime minister after the EU referendum, which was won by the vote leave campaign, which essentially was putting forward an alternative plan for government to David Cameron's, which is a lot more spending on public services, border controls, and by the end of the referendum was fairly coherent.
And I think the expectation was those who ran the vote leave campaign would then go into government. And as we know Michael Gove stabbed Boris Johnson the front, back, and sideways. That didn't happen. And Theresa May was almost in a bubble from that in a way, and a lot of liberals leavers I've spoken to actually say her biggest mistake was not tackling that 350 million for the NHS.
And if Boris Johnson had become PM, I know from people close to Boris, his first act would have been to put a bill to Parliament to give that money to the NHS straightaway. Now I don't know where he would have found it, down the back of the sofa or something.
You can find money. There was always the mandate, I think, to put up taxes or to reduce some relief there, given the anti-elite message that came through in the referendum campaign. I think the Conservative brand is now really muddied. The very clear message that worked for Cameron and Osborne, which is you can't have fiscal irresponsibility. You can't have intervention in the market, that goes back to the 1970s.
Theresa May gave a speech which said, I'm a champion of the free market, and yet she wants to propose an energy cap. So if you're listening to it, you'll have some cognitive dissonance about are you saying what you do, or are you just doing one thing and saying the other?
The thing that I found very odd from the conference, Miranda, was that it oscillated between this Miliband-like-esque of state intervention, and then the top-thumping calls to go back to the era of Margaret Thatcher and 1980 free-market economics. But it just seemed bizarre to me, because if we were at that conference in 1980, that would be like the equivalent of Jacob Rees-Mogg standing up and saying, let's go back to the 1950s and Anthony Eden's invasion of Suez. The difference between the ideas is so far away now that the party does seem to be a bit bankrupt.
Well, there are two huge problems with spending your conference week talking about how the Labour Party would take us back to the 1970s and to the era of nationalisation and the three-day week and all the rest of it. The number-one problem with that is that most people don't remember. 47 is supposed to be the key age at which people slip over into being Tory voters rather than being on the left or centre left. Nobody under that age really will have known what they were talking about when they talked about the 70s.
The other problem, I think, is worse. And this is what you're alluding to. In politics, you're supposed to show, don't tell. You can't tell people day after day in speeches from a platform that capitalism is good for you. You have to demonstrate it. And that is to do with people not feeling powerless and not feeling exploited partly by some of these privatised industries that they feel are bleeding them dry. So they have to propose solutions. The great irony of that some of those solutions are more regulated, are things like price caps, which sound as if you're arguing against your own ideology and your own ethos, as Henry has said.
If we take water, for example, which the FT has done a lot of reporting on recently, even the most staunch capitalists will look at how the water privatisation has gone and think, hang on a minute. Is this really the best thing? And if you can read our FT editorials, you can see that nationalising water is not the easy answer. But it goes to this fundamental discourse in society that capitalism isn't working, and those defending it and not doing a very good job of it. So the alternative, which is Jeremy Corbyn's highly interventionist state, which you could not even describe as capitalism in some ways, is what people are liking the sound of.
There's a massive sort of disconnect between what Margaret Thatcher thought she was doing with those original privatisations, which she actually described as power to the people through a shareholder democracy, and now Jeremy Corbyn standing on a different political platform also promising power to the people by re-nationalizing everything and taking it back into state control.
The problem is some of the solutions to these monopoly industries that have been privatised and therefore have no proper competition and are able to exploit the consumer, is the solution is so technocratically dull. I mean you try constructing a party conference speech where you talk about recalibrating the powers of the individual regulators. It will go absolutely nowhere, so you have to try and find some sort of vision. And of course that kind of technocratic solution is exactly what's fallen out of favour politically.
So tuition fees, Henry quite rightly raised the mess that the government are in on this. One of the things they did was actually to announce a very good change, which was to raise the threshold at which you start repaying your student loans from the frozen level of 21,000 pounds a year to 25,000 pounds a year. That's actually a very good progressive change. And it will stop a lot of people being caught by the repayments who shouldn't be.
But it sounds like a tiny little tinkering with the terms, and as you say, when the Labour Party is just offering to overthrow the whole system and make university education free at the point of use again, it sounds inadequate to meeting people's concerns.
Henry, we've also both been at the Labour party conference, and there was a lot of continuation of the ideas that were put forth in the party manifesto there. And those ideas, some would say, are just reheated 1970s socialism. That's the Tory attack line. But to a lot of people in that hall, they sounded fresh and new and very common sense in the way of tackling these problems with capitalism. Do you think that thinking on the left is better and more developed than on the right at the moment?
I'm not sure about that. I think there do seem to be simple solutions that seem like the obvious answers. Bring back PFI contracts into public control.
Mail, rail, energy, we're taking them back, in the words of John MacDonald.
Exactly. And I don't see a particularly nuanced understanding there of the shortcomings of the state in running services and the problems that Conservative and Labour governments have come up with in the past. And you know if you just think about the strain on our civil service of doing half the things that the Labour Party is suggesting, then I think you get into what is safer territory for the Tory Party, which is talking about competence. If they can depict the Labour shadow cabinet is ridiculously incompetent, then perhaps they're on something.
That's really difficult right now, Henry, isn't it, because the governing party's cabinet looks as if it's all over the place. And again as you were saying, that Tory brand of we are the natural party of government because we're the only ones you can trust to be the managers, even if we aren't very rich on ideas. That's kind of shot to pieces at the moment. Huge problem for them.
I would agree with Seb, though. I think that this idea that the Labour Party is awash with fresh new thinking is not really justified by the evidence. And actually I was also at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth where the background chat was all about the dearth of ideas on the centre left, and how the intellectual momentum has been lost. And that's probably just a huge issue across Western democracies, actually, post-crash, is that the way that the system has operated has fallen down. And an opportunity to redesign the way that our market economies or mixed economies work has kind of been lost.
And finally, Henry, I guess it's all exacerbated by Brexit, this huge thing that no one really wants to talk about, just wants to get on with and push out of the way. It's just consuming all time and energy from really all parties. The Labour conference they tried to talk us as little as possible, but it popped up on the fringes a lot. The Lib Dems conference they did talk about it a lot, mostly about--
--yeah, trying to overturn it. And then at the conservative conference, it was there, and it was all this kind of the hard-line Brexiters were saying, let's just get on with it. Everyone was just trying to shuffle away from it. So the question for the next couple of years of British politics is, is there any bandwidth to cope with anything but Brexit?
I think basically the answer is no, but the public doesn't want to think about the Brexit process. Brexiters want to get it over with, or a lot of Brexiters want to get it over with. And a lot of remainers are resigned to it happening against their will. And therefore politicians cannot be honest and say, look, you can't expect us to redesign public services in the next couple of years because we've got this complete logjam of legislation coming through just to keep things afloat.
Well, on that happy note, that's it for this week's episode of FT Politics. Thank you very much to George, Henry, and Miranda for joining me. We're back next week for another instalment. Until then, thanks for listening.