Brexit: Will Theresa May be a backseat driver?

Theresa May Image copyright Reuters

Theresa May arrived in Osaka something of a leader in limbo - an outgoing prime minister beset by incoming crises at home and abroad.

So far she's been conspicuously trying to stay above the fray of the Tory leadership contest.

She's told no-one who she voted for in narrowing the field down to two; she's taken no sides.

On the RAF Voyager flight into Osaka, she gave journalists a hint that she has more to contribute before this saga ends, assuming, of course, it ever does.

The prime minister refused to pledge her support for whatever outcome may take shape under the next leader.

And she stressed, several times, she wanted to see a Brexit outcome that was good for Britain and one which Parliament was able to support.

The implication seemed clear. Leaving with no deal was an outcome to avoid - she's often said it would harm the country and the Commons would block it anyway.

It also follows by extension she'd be against any idea of pushing through a no-deal Brexit by suspending or proroguing Parliament, a suggestion Jeremy Hunt has dismissed, but which Boris Johnson has failed to categorically rule out.

Mrs May was clear on this: she opposed the idea of rebel Tory MPs voting against the government on a confidence motion. That could help Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10, she argued.

None of this ties Mrs May to any particular course of action; something she was quite obviously keen to avoid. But it does suggest she does not consider herself removed from the defining issue of our time for long.

There'll be growing anticipation now how Mrs May will ultimately seek to influence Brexit - perhaps particularly in Team Boris - who will wonder how far she may be prepared to play the role of backseat driver on handing over keys to Number 10.

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