Monday, 22 October 2018

Protests over Brexit; Infighting Among Her Own Party Might Doom Theresa May

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“No May! No Brexit! No racist E.U. exit!”

Shouting canned slogans that sounded as if they were written by Trump protestors in the United States, over half a million Brits took to the streets of London on Saturday to call for a new referendum on Brexit. It was the largest such protest in the U.K. since 2003, when more than a million turned out to protest the Iraq War.

Like children who believe they’ve been cheated in a game of Red Rover, protesters in England are clamoring for a “do-over” of the Brexit Referendum in 2016 in which Great Britain voted 52-48 percent to leave the European Union.

“We were the few, and now we are the many,” Anna Soubry, a member of Parliament (MP) from Prime Minister Theresa May’s own party, the Tories, told the crowd. “We are winning the argument and we are winning the argument most importantly against those who voted Leave.”

Soubry went on, “We will not walk away. We will take responsibility and sort out this mess with a people’s vote.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the protest a “historic moment in our democracy.” 

Khan, who is in favor of banning guns, knives, and even automobiles in his city, told the foot-stomping protesters exactly what they wanted to hear. “We’ve heard some complain that a public vote would be undemocratic and unpatriotic. But the opposite is true,” Khan said. “There’s nothing more democratic — more British — than trusting the people to have the final say on our future.”

If the voters weren’t bright enough in 2016 to understand they were voting on their future, why should they be given a second chance? If they lost a second time would that satisfy them? Don’t elections have consequences in Great Britain?

The protests come at a very inopportune time for Prime Minister Theresa May, who is facing serious pressure from some MPs in her own party to justify her strategy on the Brexit negotiations with the European Union.

The negotiations with the EU broke off earlier this month with no deal yet reached. The two sides are scheduled to meet again in December, with both sides referring to the December negotiations as a deadline to come to a deal. With March 29 designated as the date Great Britain leaves the EU, the two sides would need the intervening months to get the agreement approved by their respective parliaments.  

Many of the more conservative Tory MPs are furious with May over concerns that she has already conceded too much to the EU in negotiations to leave the bloc of nations. Critics have called the Chequers Plan, which May endorses, a “soft-Brexit,” which will leave Britain tied to the European Union both financially and legislatively.

On Wednesday of this week, the Tories’ powerful 1922 Committee will meet to discuss party matters and chief on their list of topics is May and her perceived bungling of Brexit. Many on the committee are furious with May over her handling of the issue and have called upon May to attend the meeting to defend herself. One committee member reportedly said that May should “bring her own noose,” if she attends.

Should May not impress the 1922 Committee or, worse, fail to show up, it could trigger a vote of no confidence in May, which could result in her ouster as prime minister.

One Tory MP, Andrea Jenkyns, believes it’s already time for May to resign. “This is a moment for action, the right time to select a brave leader. How bad does it get before we act,” Jenkyns said.

“Betraying Leave voters will have catastrophic consequences for our party and democracy, handing power to [Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn. Voters will not forgive us.”

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who was among several cabinet members to resign in July over what he considers the “soft” Chequers deal, wrote an op-ed in the Daily Mail, which argued that May has “managed to anger not just Leavers but ardent Remainers as well.”

Davis, who along with another former cabinet minister Boris Johnson is seen as one of the main contenders to take over for May if she is ousted, argues for a much tougher approach on negotiations to leave the EU Davis even threatened to restrict airspace to the EU if a reasonable deal cannot be reached.

“European flights would still need our airspace in order to fly to the U.S.A. That should be enough to focus minds on a sensible outcome,” Davis wrote.

And perhaps, the EU is finally realizing that they might wish to deal with May instead of an alternative Conservative Party member who might take over for her. Late last week, both Angela Merkel of Germany and Emmanuel Macron of France demanded that EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier make some key concessions to Great Britain, particularly with the key sticking point of the Irish border. 

But those concessions may come too late to save May. Unfortunately, in trying to walk down the middle of the highway on the issue of Brexit, the prime minister may just get run down by both sides of the issue.

Photo: Clipart.com

 

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