The summer madness in Washington seems to be at the apogee, with endless blethering about impeachment, pending declassification of documents showing FISA abuse, an investigation into the investigators, sabre-rattling with Iran, an unhinged tariff-man, and not to mention the risible race for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Nonetheless, if you think the state of affairs is rather sordid in Washington, look no further than across the pond.
Britain has largely been envied by the world as a model of political stability and continuity— despite all the turmoil the country had faced. From a civil war to both World Wars or constitutional crises of all sorts, British political institutions survived and emerged stronger, with public faith in them intact. This is, perhaps, no longer true as the country prepares to leave the European Union when trust in British politicians is at an all-time low.
Brexit was all about regaining sovereignty which was ceded to an inexorably integrationist and unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels. Joining the European Union had certain economic advantages, but for the EU, economic cooperation necessarily meant political integration. With time, an organisation which aimed at deeper economic ties between member countries grew unabated, and imposing edicts on member states became its modus operandi.
After Britain voted to leave in June 2016, it became incumbent upon Prime Minister Theresa May to negotiate a withdrawal agreement. The challenge was to formulate an agreement which would end the EU’s political control over Britain while retaining many, if not all, economic benefits afforded by the bloc. Her withdrawal agreement which achieved neither, was worse than remaining and was rightly shot down by the Commons in the largest Parliamentary defeat in history.
Her later attempts to renegotiate and pass a withdrawal agreement failed ignominiously and dealt a further blow to her authority, yet she obstinately stayed on. In the meantime, Brexit has been delayed until October 31st (as opposed to the original exit date of March 29th), while her party has performed dismally in the European Parliament elections, taking a drubbing from Nigel Farage’s newly contrived Brexit Party.
After over a year of speculation and a myriad of calls for her resignation, Theresa May finally promised to step down as Tory leader on June 7, and will leave her position as Prime Minister once a new leader is elected. As the Dancing Queen prepares to depart Number 10, the prospective candidates sing a different ABBA tune- ‘Take a Chance On Me.’ At the time of this piece’s writing, eleven MPs have declared their candidacy for Prime Minister, which was larger than expected, but hey, at least it’s less than the number of Democrats running in 2020!
Leading in polls is the scruffy haired Boris Johnson, formerly Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London. Charismatic and entertaining in an idiosyncratic fashion, the ‘British Donald Trump’ is the favorite to win the contest and has racked up many high-profile endorsements, including one from the man himself.
Trailing closely are establishment darlings Jeremy Hunt, the incumbent Foreign Secretary and Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary. Also popular among the grassroots is former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been most vociferous against the EU. Meanwhile, the momentum hasn’t been lost on Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and dark horse candidate Rory Stewart. The remaining candidates, however, have failed to gain much traction from the press or their fellow MPs.
All major candidates have made it their pledge to get Britain out of the EU, though there are differing opinions on how. The Johnson/Raab faction have made a no-deal Brexit their default position as they know the EU will, in its typical obdurate fashion, rule out any further concessions. On the other hand, the more “moderates,” represented by Gove, Hunt and Stewart wish to avoid a no-deal Brexit at all costs.
Meanwhile, the post-referendum economy is in better shape than most have expected, as growth is at 0.4% while unemployment remains at record lows. Nonetheless, businesses are reluctant to invest due to uncertainty, and taxes— both corporate and personal are at a 30-year high. Instead, the Tories are engaged in a highly fatuous war on straws, soft-drinks and online speech. It is truly crestfallen when the party of free markets becomes the party of the nanny state.
Whoever the next Prime Minister will be must embrace free market and pro-business policies which were shunned by the May government and at the same time endorse free trade. This will help give economic growth and investment a much needed a push. Merely leaving the EU won’t be enough, as the threat of a Labour government run by Comrade Corbyn looms large. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is already topping the polls and would certainly spell doom for the Tories thanks to May’s grandstanding and failure to deliver Brexit. By ensuring economic prosperity, the Tories can perhaps ward off these threats.
We are now at a point where one of the oldest and most successful political parties in the world— that of Pitt the Younger, Peel, Disraeli, Churchill and Thatcher— is on the brink of collapse. If the Tories do not get their act together, their collapse will not only be lamentable, but also well deserved.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.