Theresa May's authority grows with by-election win

John Pienaar
Deputy political editor
@JPonpoliticson Twitter


Like yesterday's storms, the campaign circus - the big name politicians - have moved on.

The by-elections in Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central have left politics a little clearer than before.

Labour may no longer need to fear the UK Independence Party in its heartlands, but Theresa May and her Conservatives look like they need fear no-one.

Brexit worked for the Tories in Copeland, alongside doubts about Jeremy Corbyn, and it has helped the prime minister claim to be a Tory capable of reaching people and parts of the country no Conservative leader has reached since Margaret Thatcher.

Her authority, her less easily definable aura of power, have grown.

Downing Street was already convinced they could, to put it plainly, beat Jeremy Corbyn in their sleep.

They are doubly convinced now.

So Mrs May has space to develop her big idea besides Brexit, making people who feel left out by the global economy, feel it is working for them.

Her plan to achieve that is still a work in progress.

Meanwhile, the government is still trying to manage a small voting majority in the Commons - and that will not change unless or until Mrs May wins a bigger one at the next election.

Will she be tempted to go to the country before 2020?

Dominant at home or not, Theresa May's premiership will be defined by her handling of Brexit. And that's a long struggle against Britain's European rivals and under domestic political pressure that can only increase.