Brexit Impact; Terror Attacks & London Fire Disaster
British PM, Theresa May, is in trouble. Problems piled up for her when she called what seemed to be an unnecessary election, misjudged her own ability to fight an election and the huge impact of the mobilized and motivated young voters. She lost the Tory majority in the House of Commons and is left struggling to retain her PM position.
In the meantime, the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, regarded as less than competent before the Election, seems to have risen from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix!
My impression of Theresa May as Home Secretary, when we met her at a Sikh Council UK reception some years ago was that she is rather shy to relate to people. Not the best person to fight elections, yet probably the right person with experience and determination to lead on Brexit. The Election was a calculated gamble to strengthen her hand in readiness for the negotiations. It failed and she is left in a weaker position.
As if that was not enough, the sequence of Manchester and London terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire triggered many other challenges. These events, the resultant loss of life and what is seen as mis-management during the aftermath of the Tower fire disaster, have exposed the PM and the Council involved to severe criticism. The fire has also raised other questions about the whole system at local and national levels.
This is the week when the Brexit talks have started and UK seems to be far from being in a strong negotiating position with a PM marking time. John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor, thinks that the Government is in “disarray” over Brexit. On the other hand, despite all the set-backs, at least for the time being the Tory senior figures seem to be showing a united front.
In a few weeks’ time, it may be possible to read the whole UK situation in a different and even positive light, except that May’s election gamble misfired! That happens in politics. Yet, she has grit and much departmental experience as the former Home Secretary. She has strong ministers with experience and a good Brexit negotiator in David Davis backed by those like Chancellor Philip Hammond.
Even though a chastised PM may be in trouble personally, I doubt if the government is in as much “disarray” over Brexit as John McDonnel claims. The EU leaders seem to understand this. Other EU countries like France with own political upheavals are not in much better shape. UK’s Election 2017 is a setback for reasons which may not be associated with the actual strength of Conservative policies. Chancellor Hammond is reported as saying, “We’re leaving the EU and because we are leaving the EU, we will be leaving the single market and by the way, we will be leaving the customs union.” Having worked in the EU common tariff area for about two years, I agree with this comment. Brexit means Brexit!
Gurmukh Singh OBE