As I said to John Oakley on Wednesday, Theresa May started this campaign as Mrs Thatcher and ended it as Kim Campbell. Well, it wasn't quite that bad. But it's bad - and it could well imperil Brexit (and, therefore, my formerly winning bet).
Mrs May began the campaign with the Tories leading in Wales for the first time since 1859. She finished it by throwing away David Cameron's majority - as historians will call it, assuming any historians are minded to waste their time on either of these wretched figures. As I write, the Tories are on course to win 314 seats - or twelve short of a majority. Which is close but just sufficiently out of reach for the Ulster Unionists to come to her rescue, even if they were minded to. [UPDATE: It was in fact a spectacular night for the DUP - and by my math (or maths) that would put a Tory-Unionist alliance three short of a majority - but Brexit is a very complicating factor in Ulster.] Everywhere else it's left and lefter - Labour, Scottish Nationalists, Lib Dems, Jeremy Corbyn's old chums in Sinn Féin...
It was a roller-coaster night: post-Brexit and post-Farage, the UKIP vote collapsed; the former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister lost his seat; the SNP had as grim a time as the Tories; and a Labour leader with supposedly no appeal beyond the hard left proved remarkably popular. There are now conflicting reports that the Prime Minister is either going to resign in a Cameronesque huff or cling to power. By convention, in a hung parliament the Queen first asks the leader of the largest party to try to form a government before she asks anybody else (like Corbyn). So presumably Mrs May will at least be staying on as caretaker while my old boss Boris Johnson or some other chancer decides to make a grab for the poisoned chalice.
Earlier today, before the results, I joined my friend Andrew Lawton on the radio to talk Theresa and terrorism - and the curious fact that the mound of corpses from Manchester and London Bridge did not really play a part in the UK campaign. As I wrote on Tuesday:
The inertia in today's Britain seems telling. We are, as the French Prime Minister and the London Mayor and other eminences have advised, getting used to it. Terror doesn't appear (from this distance) to have played much part in the election campaign: in a certain sense, the remorseless Islamization of Britain seems to have passed beyond politics. If you still think the major parties can ameliorate the situation, Mrs May is just about preferable to Jeremy Corbyn: In a choice between a dissembler and a dupe, vote for the marginally less unsafe pair of hands.
Evidently that's not as winning a pitch as the Chirac/Le Pen "Vote for the crook, not the fascist" battle cry. It was further complicated by Mrs May's tenure at the Home Office, which came up during my conversation with Andrew. Click below to listen:
If you fancy a break from parliamentary horse-trading, never mind that malignant drama-queen Jim Comey leaking and showboating, there'll be further audio adventures with yours truly tomorrow evening when we launch the second of our Tales for Our Time. If you're a Mark Steyn Club member, don't miss it - and, if you're one of our many Club members in the United Kingdom, feel free to launch your campaign for the Tory leadership in our Comments section below. (For more on The Mark Steyn Club, see here.)
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