Theresa May needs to resign for the good of Britain

theresa may speech prankster removed_00000826
theresa may speech prankster removed_00000826

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John McTernan is head of political practice at PSB, a strategic research consultancy. He was a speechwriter to ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair and was communications director to former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

(CNN)Theresa May has to go. Voters in Britain deprived their Prime Minister of her majority and denied her a mandate to govern in June's general election.

If that wasn't enough, Mrs. May's tone deaf response to the tragic fire that destroyed Grenfell Tower should have been a sacking offense.
Yet despite being robbed of political authority, the Prime Minister has been loyally kept in office by Conservative MPs -- backbench and frontbench alike.
    After Mrs. May's disastrous speech at her party conference this week, all the clichés have been brought out of storage and dusted off in the British media to describe the crisis surrounding the PM.
    However, as things stand, it seems highly likely that Theresa May is going to remain in place.
    This is not to say that the speech was not a disaster. It was. Indeed, it was the worst leader's speech that I have ever seen. Everything failed: Mrs. May's voice, her announcements, her personal protection detail, security. Even the stage set seemed to give up in despair and started falling apart. This speech will be taught for as long as political communications is studied.
    And if Theresa May had any self-respect, she would be calling a press conference Thursday to resign. It should be very, very short.
    The problem is that right now, the rest of her party are unlikely to want her to do anything so dignified and in the national interest. They are, in effect, holding her in place and do not want to let her go.
    Theresa May: What you need to know
    Theresa May: What you need to know

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    Theresa May: What you need to know 01:14
    Why? For the basest of reasons: fear.
    First, the divisions in the Conservative Party that would be revealed by a leadership contest would only add to speculation that the government is close to being too unstable to run a country.
    In the run-up to the party conference, any sense that the British government had finally agreed on a truce after May's Brexit speech in Florence was blown apart after her own foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, outlined his own vision for Brexit not once, but twice, in a 4,000-word article and an interview in two separate newspapers.
    Both interventions led to speculation of a leadership challenge and overshadowed most of the conference.
    Second, Tory MPs fear the British voters. It was clear in the conference hall and on the fringes.
    After a disappointing election result in June, many Tories fear that the man they mocked this time last year -- Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn -- could end up in Downing Street if another election were held tomorrow.
    A sign of the fear: a fringe event at the conference titled "Is the intellectual momentum all with the left?" proved so popular that people who joined the queue with 30 minutes to spare were turned away.
    Third, who actually wants the job? This may seem a funny question to ask: surely every politician believes that they can and should be PM?
    True, but who would want to lead the country through Brexit? Simply signing up for the payments that the UK will end up giving the EU would make whoever is leader a marked man or woman.
    And that is nothing compared to some of the other sacrifices that will be required to make Brexit happen. Letting someone else take all the flak seems the most sensible option.
    So many people in Britain will now rightly be asking why Mrs. May won't go, even after this final humiliation.
    The problem is her party. They are an analogue party in a digital age. They can't turn back the clock, but they are hanging onto its hands in the hope that they can hold back time.