The Waugh Zone Thursday July 19, 2018

On her last full Parliamentary day before the summer break, the PM got over the finishing line with relative ease. Corbyn missed the goal at PMQs, the Liaison Committee was a bore-a-thon, Boris Johnson pulled his punches and the 1922 Committee saw a Brexiteer MP loudly announce he was withdrawing his letter demanding a confidence vote in the PM. Of course, she has to cross a series of finishing lines (next Tuesday is when the Commons formally rises for the recess) and she knows party conference is likely to see the next big Brexiteer blow-up, ahead of the special Brexit EU summit that looms in October or November. The ‘meaningful’ vote on her eventual deal will be the most important date in her diary. But for now, as MPs start their end-of-term wind down, such thoughts are far away.

Simon Clarke, the backbench MP who withdrew his leadership letter with some theatre at the 1922 committee, neatly captured May’s reaction. “She doesn’t buckle under pressure, and doesn’t revel in the good moments.” While surrounded by hacks as she was made to stand outside the ’22, she revealed she would be going through her red box papers rather than watching Boris Johnson’s speech on catch-up. And at last night’s drinks for the media in the No10 Rose Garden, she certainly was as unfazed as ever. Today, she’s in Northern Ireland to try to reassure people about her backstop plans for Brexit and how to avoid a hard border.

Yet the PM knows there’s much more work to do on her Chequers compromise White Paper. Brussels’ newly…

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