Theresa May leads a near zombie government

There is a type of business which the media call a zombie company.

This describes an organisation permanently in debt to its creditors, which can pay the interest on existing loans but has no possible hope of ever clearing what it owes.

It is kept alive only because the risk of dissolution is greater than the risk of continuing.

So the zombie company stumbles on, without purpose and without hope but still nominally alive.

Theresa May now leads a near zombie government.

The deal with the DUP keeps her administration on life support. But it is an aimless administration with no purpose, save the negotiation of Brexit and, of course, self-preservation.

Some believe the Faustian unionist pact between the Tories and the DUP might see the Prime Minister through a full five years. No chance whatsoever.

May will not last the year. Tory MPs with smallish majorities cannot risk being led at the next election by the worst campaigner in western Europe.

It is one thing to fear your leader might be an electoral dud. Many Labour members suspected that of Gordon Brown in the run-up to the 2010 vote, but they could not be sure.

Every Tory MP knows that May is hopeless. Therefore, the instinct of self-preservation will see the back of her this autumn.

This is a necessary but not sufficient condition to bring the Government back to life, to give it purpose once again.

It will still only have eyes for Brexit.

In judging the longevity of hung parliaments and minority governments, peopleget hypnotised by the arithmetic. But in fact, it is a secondary consideration.

I should know. I led one for four years in Scotland with 47 seats in a Parliament of 129! Not only did it last the full term of office but the SNPwere then returned with a majority government in a proportional system.

The essential factor which allowed that minority administration to be successful was that the opposition feared an election more than the SNP did.

Therefore, the Government could carry on regardless. We could put forward a relatively adventurous programme, safe in the knowledge that when it came to the crunch the opposition wouldrun away. This they did in successive Budget debates.

The present Westminster Government is not in that position. They fear an election much more than any other party.

So they put forward a Queen’s Speech devoid of content and controversy. And this week, when the slightest prospect ofrebellion emerged on access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland, they ran away at the first whiff of grapeshot.

Brexit does offer a raison d’etre, although one fraught with danger. Once it is negotiated there will be only a void where the Government’s brain should be.

This then brings thelikelihood of “off with May’s head” in the autumn, with David Davis probably ushered in as her successor.

He will then be able to negotiate Brexit directly instead of as May’s proxy.

The DUP deal will likely hold for the two years and then Davis will go to the country on his Brexit record.

Either he will be seen to have done well and will have half a chance of being endorsed by the people, or he will go down with all guns blazing as thefull humiliation of Brexit is laid bare.

What is clear is that there is no parliamentary arrangement which can forestall the inevitable end of this zombie government.

At the finish of this movie, the undead will become the politically dead.

This article originally appeared in the Sunday Mail.