THE Westminster Parliament resumes this week after the summer hols. You know that because the English public school break is also over and the doings of the House of Commons are synchronised with Eton and co. So what is there to expect?

Mrs May returns to Downing Street from her sojourn in Japan having told the world’s media that she intends to “go on and on” as PM. Of course this is blatant nonsense. To be kind, she had to say something of the sort or else unleash a storm of media discussion over her replacement. However, no-one at Westminster is in the slightest doubt that Mrs May is a caretaker who has lost all political credibility. She remains at Number 10 because no-one wants the PM’s job until after Brexit. That way they can blame Mrs M for whatever debacle emerges.

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One thing has changed over the summer months: the political fortunes of Mrs May’s main rivals inside the Tory Party have plummeted. We started the long recess with the Three Brexiteers – Messrs Johnson, Davis and Fox – battling it out publicly with Chancellor Hammond as to who would wield the assassin’s dagger and grab the Prime Minister’s crown. Come September their respective political fortunes have collapsed.

Boris has been found out at long last as the lazy incompetent which he always has been. In the end, all that flying hair and charming dozy-ness is really all there is to the Foreign Secretary. When questioning Boris in the Treasury Select Committee, I soon discovered that he has absolutely no grasp of detail and just busks. That might be OK for a Tory backbencher, as no-one cares. But not for the Foreign Secretary when a botched Brexit is about to ruin the British economy.

The clock is ticking madly towards the March 2019 deadline when the UK drops out of Europe and finds itself in the cold reality of a global economy without the negotiating clout of the EU. And just to add insult to the self-inflicted injury of Brexit, the EU economy – the one Britain has opted to quit – has suddenly gone into power mode. Growth in the Eurozone is surging – in fact, along with China, it is now boosting global economic output at a fast clip. Of this, Mr Johnson knows little.

Instead, our Boris has frittered away the summer while the US and North Korea edge towards nuclear war, Afghanistan slips back into chaos, Libya implodes further, and the world marches to environmental suicide. Abroad, the UK’s remaining friends and allies have come to realise that the Foreign Secretary is just daft as a brush. Clever? Yes. But serious? Absolutely not. Even worse for Boris, Tory backbenchers are thinking the same. Dangerous times requires serious leaders. Boris may admire Winston Churchill, but The Blond is Churchillian only in his dreams.

Then there is David Davis, in the early summer the Tory media favourite to replace Mrs May. Davis is blokey, matey, and – for the Commons – non-sectarian. During a vote, when MPs are milling about waiting for the arcane voting procedures to run their course, Davis will happily sit on the SNP benches and annoy fellow Tories by chatting to the hated Nats. And folk listen to his contributions at the despatch box with an attentive ear.

Yet DD’s political fortunes have waned. Like Boris, he is lazy. This is a common fault in Parliament, where you can coast for all of your political career. The Commons has no real powers any longer and certainly does not scrutinise legislation – witness last week’s ignominious collapse of the first test case brought under the new 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act. Westminster is a club where reputations are made by pontificating in the tea room or in the numerous bars. In fact, the less you actually do, the more time you have to pontificate and build up a coterie – as Davis did among the hard-line Brexiteers.

But now DD has to deliver Brexit and this summer has exposed his deficiencies. Indeed, negotiations with Europe have gone into reverse and the dreaded Brussels’ bureaucrats (if you are a Tory Leave supporter) seem on the brink of getting the Brits to pay a £50 billion divorce bill. This is not what Mr Davis was meant to secure – quite the opposite actually. Unless he can show a bit of gumption, his career as a future PM is well behind him.

That leaves Foxy and the Chancellor (Mrs May’s bete noire). Philip Hammond has talked a good game over the summer and mobilised moderate, pro-Remain support in parts of the Tory Party.

But he has two black marks against him. First, he is boring, boring, boring. The new Young Things on the Tory backbenches will skip a generation for the next leader rather than support Hammond. Second, the UK economy is slowing and the Chancellor is getting the blame (as well he should).

Dr Fox has all the attributes of a successful Tory minister – he is brutish, devious and lacking in principles. The one thing he lacks is class. Foxy used the summer to upstage Johnson and Davis by being as nasty as possible about the EU and its Brexit negotiators – he even used the word “blackmail”.

But the intervention of Dr Fox has only made getting a deal more difficult, ensuring that Tory Remainers will only see him in Number 10 over a stack of dead bodies. As for the English nationalists in the Brexit camp, let’s just say they have marked Foxy down as neither a gentleman nor an Englishman.

THE very opposite is true of Fox’s fellow Somerset MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg. The summer silly season in the media has been filled with insider puffs promoting the so-called MP for the Eighteenth Century for next Tory leader.

Actually, I have a soft spot for lank Jacob. Unlike Johnson and Davis, Rees-Mogg really does have a razor-sharp brain and he is anything but lazy, as I saw on the Treasury Committee. Yes, he has deliberately cultivated an air of eccentricity – the better to get a profile in the competitive House of Commons. Equally, he has made himself very rich as a financial investment adviser.

Now Mogg is making his move. But not – I strongly suspect – for the Tory leadership. He may inspire the Tory, English nationalist faction but he lacks a base in the party mainstream of thrusting young entrepreneurs (many of whom are Remainers). This was obvious in the election of the new chair of the Treasury Select Committee. Rees-Mogg coveted the job but lost out to fellow Tory Nicky Morgan.

All of which leaves the Conservative Party at Westminster up the proverbial gum tree just as the Brexit repeal bill – transferring existing EU regulations into UK law – gets introduced in Parliament this week. The new bill sounds democratic but effectively hands massive regulatory powers to the government with limited or non-existent parliamentary approval. This is a massive power grab by the executive and everyone knows it. Given the deep Tory splits and the lack of anyone in charge at Number 10, we could be in for a battle royal. The autumn term at Westminster should be worth following.