- 24 May 19
There has been a kind of black humour involved in watching what has been going on in British politics over the past two years and more. The grotesque torture of the past six months may have been finally brought to an end, but far from the future looking brighter, with the resignation of Teresa May, we may be about to enter an even darker, more malign period.
The news that Theresa May is stepping down as the leader of the Tory Party is not a surprise. She has been the political equivalent of a dead woman walking for a long, long time now.
Her premiership was doomed from the moment she called a crazy, unnecessary general election in 2017. Badly advised by her inner circle, she was gambling on the possibility of returning to power with a bigger majority; and also on the added strength and authority that the endorsement of her, as the leader in a winning election, would have conferred.
It turned out to be a truly disastrous mistake, a moment of reckless political hari kiri. She returned with thirteen fewer seats, bringing her below the vital threshold at which the Tories could govern on their own. Worse still, the only way of forming a government involved a Faustian pact with the political dinosaurs of the DUP. It was, with Brexit looming, the worst imaginable outcome, handing a level of power over the negotiations with the EU to the DUP – which ultimately scuppered not just the withdrawal agreement but Theresa May’s premiership.
With friends like the DUP, one might well ask, who needs enemies?
The longer the tortuous process of trying to get a Brexit deal through parliament went on, the worse the humiliation became for Theresa May personally. She was forever jetting off somewhere to lobby or negotiate, but there was never any chance that the EU would change the fundamentals of its approach. People have been surprised by the solidarity shown by the EU 27. They should not have been. True, Irish diplomacy has played a part. But Britain had always exaggerated its importance to the EU, where the truth is that the EU can get along just fine without Britain, and with Britain out.
This, of course, is less true of Ireland, but that is a different story.
Theresa May had been condescended to appallingly by Donald Trump when her held her ‘lickle’ hand, when they met in Washington, in a display of male chauvinist boorishness that would be almost impossible to match. But the slow, dawning realisation that the EU had a well thought out, essentially principled position, that would involve maintaining the provisions of the Good Friday agreement was in many ways a more telling comment on her leadership.
It was as if she had looked at the achievements of those that put the Titanic on the broad expanses of the oceans of the world – and decided to follow suit. It was the maritime equivalent of the road to nowhere.
Throughout the Brexit process, the people she appointed to deal with the EU were utterly inadequate to the task. The boorishness they have shown at every turn has matched Donal Trump’s, though the style is different. Whereas the EU team got down to a forensic level of planning, the likes of David Davis acted like prime buffoons, arriving into meetings with notes scratched on the back of an envelope.
The British public servants were more professional. But their best efforts were scuppered by politicians – including the risible, serial liar Boris Johnson – who assumed that the European leaders would be bullied into submission. They still, apparently, think that it is possible.
This crude arrogance could yet – indeed it is increasingly likely that it will – lead to a hard Brexit with all of the pain and pressure that will heap on British businesses as well as Irish, and to a lesser extent European.
It is a grim accident of history that Theresa May faced on the opposition benches a Labour leader, in Jeremy Corbyn, who was himself a Eurosceptic, and was prepared to ignore and frustrate the wishes of the members of his party, all over England, Scotland and Wales – the vast majority of whom support remaining in the EU, or at the very least, a confirmatory referendum on whatever deal is agreed. He will not be forgiven.
The prospect of a deal is very slim now. Between them – prodded, of course, by the idiot cadre on the Tory right – Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have dragged the people of the United Kingdom to the very edge of a what will almost certainly be a catastrophic error.
Well, Theresa May is gone now – or will be on June 7th. She will remain as Prime Minister until her successor as leader of the Conservative party is chosen. But she will be a ghost, stalking the corridors of power and dreaming of how things might have gone differently. Indeed they might. But the truth is that she has no one to blame but herself.
As the deeply unpleasant characters (hello, Boris), who will rise to the surface in the upcoming leadership contest will also do, she put party before country. The rich will ride on. Thee working classes will suffer. These gargoyles don't give a shit.
She drew red lines, some of which were hers – as with ending freedom of movement – and others which were designed to appease the horrid members of the European Research Group (who are, incidentally, utterly useless at research).
She facilitated the liars. She failed to make the Leave campaign accountable for their flouting of electoral law in the referendum campaign. She picked one bad team after another. She lost control of the parliamentary party to an unprecedented degree. And still she staggered on, like a zombie in a horror B-movie, gasping and grimacing while she bled political credibility at a ghastly rate till there was absolutely none left. In the process, she ensured one thing: we will never forget her pitifully doomed reign.
How would they kill her off? In the end she would do that herself.
It was, after all, only a matter of time.