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Roiling Waters Of British Politics

May 24, 2019

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What should be stated, at the outset of the news today regarding British Prime Minister Theresa May removing herself from office, is that nothing will get any better for her successor, Boris Johnson.

What has transpired over the past months has not been easy for May, but let us not lose sight of the fact she made many of her own colossal mistakes.  The blow-back over the Irish border was precisely what she deserved, as were the political barbs when she made promises that could never be fulfilled.  Some gut honesty was needed when it came to talking to her constituents about Brexit.   She never had any ability to be bold and say Brexit was a fatally flawed idea.

So every step she took into the mire looked more and more like capitulation to an idea, that in her heart, I just know she did not believe in but felt she had to fake.

The next prime minister will look no better after a few months.  And there are only five months allotted for wiggle room with no new schemes that can be pulled from the conservative’s bag of tricks.  The only logical path forward, and therefore not to be taken by the Tories, is to hold a new referendum on Brexit.  There would, indeed, be a different outcome.  Enough Brits have come to see the folly of their knee-jerk nationalism of a few years ago that a second vote would be welcomed.  (I must admit, however, the idea of a national referendum being not adhered to does concern me from a process point of view.  But on the other hand I have long held a deep concern about populist appeals and passions among voters running amok–as when Brexit passed.)

History would have treated May proudly had she supported and pushed a second vote.  Steel in the spine and wind in the face is always a good look for the history booksAnd tackling radicals in one’s own party–as the Brexiters are–always makes for a grand narrative.  But instead May chose to be timid and weak.  She has failed so miserably at each point of the compass over the past months that when they hand out the award for ‘most lacking political courage’ she need not worry about being the runner up.

And so it goes.

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