I see that the Financial Times (and every other media outlet) reports that “Theresa May has announced her resignation as Conservative leader, clearing the way for a new UK prime minister to pick up the formidable challenge of delivering Brexit and reuniting a shattered party … [finally, I might add, and] … Mrs May said in an emotional statement in Downing Street that she would resign as Tory leader on Friday June 7, triggering a leadership contest that will start the following week which former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is favourite to win … [but] … The prime minister said she would continue in a caretaker role until a new Conservative leader is elected; that process — involving Tory MPs and party activists — is expected to be wrapped up before the end of July … [and, the FT explains] … Mrs May finally yielded to the inevitable in a statement in Downing Street on Friday just after 10am, following a meeting with Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench Tory 1922 committee … [in which] … Sir Graham had made it clear that she stood no chance of winning parliamentary backing for her revamped Brexit deal and had lost the confidence of her party … [therefore] … The prime minister admitted on the steps of Number 10 that she had been defeated by the challenge of delivering Brexit, having surrendered her parliamentary majority in an election in 2017: “I did my best,” she said. Mrs May put her deal to the House of Commons but was defeated three times, initially by the biggest majority against a government in history, as Eurosceptics, Remainers and the Labour opposition united against her Brexit plans.“
The Economist says that Prime Minister “Theresa May has devoted her time in Downing Street to a single task: getting Britain out of the European Union. In November she cleared the first hurdle when she signed a draft Brexit deal with her opposite numbers in Brussels. But its terms were so much worse than those she had promised at home that she has been unable to get the deal through Parliament. MPs have rejected it three times, by crushing margins. Under pressure from her party, Mrs May has promised to quit if she fails on her fourth and final attempt. Even though the vote is not due until next month, it became clear this week that the deal was indeed doomed when her last-ditch attempt to win over doubters backfired spectacularly and triggered the resignation of a senior minister (see article). At the same time, the Conservative Party is set to take a drubbing in European elections at the hands of Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party. Britain will soon have a new prime minister.” What is not mentioned is that Labour, the normal “government in waiting” is led by Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-semitic, quasi-communist, looney, who is also leading his party towards humiliation at the hands of British nationalist and populists.
It seems pretty clear that Prime Minister May bungled the Brexit deal but, as The Economist says, it was always going to be “fiendishly hard.” First, she threw away a solid parliamentary majority in an unnecessary election, thereby strengthening the hands of the Europeans who really want to punish Britain, harshly, for having the temerity to even dare to want to leave the EU; and, second, she kept flip-flopping in those “fiendishly hard” negotiations; never able to find a way to satisfy the Europeans, the British ‘Leavers,’ the British ‘Remainers‘ or even the undecideds in the British public.
It seems, to me, more and more likely, now, that:
- Britain will opt for the so-called “hard Brexit” option which some (but not too many) observers think was the best available option from the start; and
- The fate of both the UK Conservative and Labour Parties may also hang in the balance because the divisions caused by Bexit have severely damaged both parties and have emboldened more radical factions.
The British are now and will continue, in June and July, giving Canada a demonstration of how parliamentary party leaders, including prime ministers, should be hired and fired ~ with more power being held by MPs and local riding association presidents than by party grass-roots members, measured simply by how many have actually signed up for memberships.
Slightly off topic, but by the above, I mean that the best people to select and to relieve the leader of the parliamentary caucus are the members of that caucus, themselves. The “grass-roots” are ill-prepared for that task because they have little “skin in the game,” while the sitting MPs understand who is able (and unable) to lead a party caucus and a government. On the other hand, the “grass-roots” are better equipped than anyone else to set the party’s broad goals and platform planks. In other words, the grass-roots, the party rank and file should select the delegates to policy conventions and the decisions of those conventions should bind the party and every candidate representing the party. Just to use one example: the Conservative Party of Canada decided, in a convention, that the abortion debate would not be reopened; every single candidate who wants to represent the Conservative Party in every single riding must respect that decision. Of course, individual Conservatives, including elected MPs, may oppose abortion; they may attend pro-life rallies and demonstrations and they may speak against abortion … but they may not, as candidates or as members of parliament claim that the Conservative Party will revisit or reopen the abortion debate. They may wish that to happen but they may not advocate it.
Back on topic: for Canada, this crisis represents an opportunity … or it would if we could just manage to toss out our current prime minister, as the UK Conservative Party tossed out Ms May, and have a grown-up, adult government that can manage to not screw-up our relations with another important trading partner and ally.