Mrs May’s gamble

20160713172905theresa_may_uk_home_office_croppedBritish Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t strike many as a gambler, she was, as The Economist says, seen by most to be “an honest plodder: a safe pair of hands who kept her promises and did her homework.

But now she has broken the mould, and a promise, and she has called a general election.


First, and mainly, in my opinion, it is, as the Financial Times says, “she sought a direct mandate for her plan to deliver a smooth British exit from the EU.” The FT goes on to say that “The pound rose on expectations that the prime minister would win a much increased Commons majority, allowing her to sideline implacable Eurosceptics in her Conservative party and ensure a phased Brexit concluding with a UK-EU free-trade deal. Further, the Financial Times says, “Polls predict a heavy defeat for the opposition Labour party, which has been in disarray under the leadership of leftwinger Jeremy Corbyn.

Second, I suspect, she wants to be secure until about 2021 or even into 2022, with the internal opposition (Conservative, Labour and the Scottish Nationalists) squashed until Brexit is a fully done deal and she has secured trade deals with the USA, China, India and Canada.

great briitain leaves european union metaphor

There are reports that many, many European leaders, including even Angela Merkel, the pragmatist, believe that the United Kingdom will “come to its senses” if the Brexit deal is hard enough. Prime Minister May wants to pull that rug out from under them. I believe that she thinks that, for better or worse, the referendum is done and the results are binding .. there is no turning back: not for Britain and not for her. An increased majority will strengthen Britain’s negotiating hand and deflate the hopes of the Europeans who fear, as they should, that the Brexit is just the start of a process that will either unravel the EU or see it mightily, perhaps unrecognizably, reformed.

But there are risks.

The first risk is that she will not secure the bigger majority that she needs and that will make the Brexit she wants, and the Brexit that Britain needs, harder to get. It is an election ~ and, as we just demonstrated when we tossed out a perfectly good, very able government and replaced it with a gang of untested amateurs, elections are “crap shoots:” major gambles, fraught with dangers for those who take risks.

ClsmxYBVEAIQOiMThe second big risk is that even if she gets a bigger majority it will be, as the Brexit vote was, concentrated in England. Left leaning, pro_EU Scotland, in particular, is likely to defy Mrs May and vote for Labour and/or the SNP. Her election may further exacerbate the divisions between  England and Scotland (and between England and Northern Ireland) and embolden the separatists in both places. Getting a better deal for Britain could destroy the United Kingdom after somewhere between 100 and 500 years, depending on how one reads the history of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

On balance, in my opinion, the potential (likely) rewards outweigh the risks .

slide1Canada should support Prime Minister May by pushing, soon and hard, for a Canada-UK, or, preferably, a four way CANZUK trade deal as proposed by Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole. We should support Prime Minister May and the UK because it is one of only a tiny handful of countries, maybe less than a dozen in all, that are traditional, proven, trusted friends and allies: the other four “Anglosphere” nations, the Dutch and Scandinavians, and that’s nearly it. Even France, our other “mother country” tried, perfidiously and for its own selfish, even imperialistic reasons to destabilize Canada back in the 1960s ~ close to an act of war and a reason we should have forced them out of NATO is they hadn’t quit on their own. Real friends are hard to find, we’re lucky to have ten or twelve in the whole world … we should keep them close. Mrs May could use serious Canada-UK trade negotiations to her advantage and they are an opportunity for Canada to secure a better trade deal with a top-ten global economy.

One thought on “Mrs May’s gamble”

  1. Scotland isn’t the SNP Ted.

    “Behind this disagreement lies a presumption – that whatever voters in England and Wales might want out of Brexit, people in Scotland want something very different. After all, did not voters north of the border vote by 62% to 38% in favour of remaining in the EU, whereas in England and Wales there was a 53% to 47% vote in favour of leaving? That would seem quite clear evidence of a very different attitude towards the EU north of the border.

    Yet to date little effort has been made to check out this assumption by asking voters in Scotland what kind of Brexit they would like to see. New research published today by NatCen Social Research finally does so – and makes rather sober reading for Scotland’s first minister.

    It turns out that Scots are not so keen on freedom of movement after all. As many as 64% believe that, post-Brexit, anyone from the EU who wishes to live in Britain should have to apply to do so in the same way as anyone from outside the EU. Even more, 72%, think that the same rule should apply to any British citizen who wants to go and live in the EU.

    Unsurprisingly this mood is most prevalent among the minority of Scots who voted to leave the EU, more than 80% of whom would like to put migration between the EU and Britain on the same footing as that between anywhere else in the world and Britain. But it is also relatively widespread among those who voted to remain, more than half of whom take the same view.

    Most voters in Scotland might have voted to remain, but that does not mean that they are so enamoured of the merits of the EU that they necessarily wish to maintain freedom of movement now that the UK is heading for the EU exit.

    That is not to say that Sturgeon has misread voters’ mood entirely. No fewer than 93% express support for allowing EU companies to trade freely in Britain and for ensuring that British companies are able to do trade equally freely across the EU. Even leave voters think this would be a perfectly sensible outcome. But of course what this does mean is that what voters in Scotland want out of Brexit is closer to what the prime minister has in mind than Sturgeon’s vision of what should happen – that is, ending freedom of movement but securing an “ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement”. It also means, by the way, that attitudes towards Brexit in Scotland are very similar to those in the rest of the UK.

    It is, thus, perhaps not surprising that there is relatively little support for the Scottish government’s idea that Scotland might have a closer relationship with the EU even while still being part of the UK. As many as 62% say the rules on immigration into Scotland from the EU should be the same as those for immigration into England and Wales. Only 25% back the idea that it might be easier for someone from the EU to migrate to Scotland than to England or Wales. Equally, 62% say the rules on trade between Scotland and the EU should be the same as those in the rest of the UK, while just 34% think there should be a more liberal regime north of the border.

    Between them, these findings raise severe doubts about the wisdom of the Scottish government’s decision to turn a disagreement about what Brexit should mean into the crux of an argument as to why Scotland should have a second opportunity to back leaving the UK. The level of commitment to the EU in Scotland may be broad but it is also seemingly too shallow for Brexit to be an issue that is likely to change many minds about the merits of independence. Even among those who were already in favour of leaving the UK in the first independence referendum, just over three in five would like to see an end to freedom of movement.”

    That and the fact that the UK is worth four times as much to the Scots as the EU

    And an equivalent ratio of jobs

    And the Scots have good reason to continue within the UK.

    Besides Sturgeon is making a fine stramash of everything else in Scotland and is not particularly popular.

    The Tories might find themselves back with a seat in Ayr.

    Cheers, Chris.

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