The debate is raging among Kippers – since this is the Brexit election, should we take Theresa May at her word and give her the mandate she claims she has “reluctantly” gone to the country for?
I don’t trust Theresa May and it is not because of her volte face from being a Remainiac to committed Brexiteer. I think there is an element of realpoltik in this apparent flip-flop in the sense that she sees in Brexit as her ‘Falklands moment’ – a chance to cement her personal place among the pantheon of Great British Prime Ministers and maybe even eclipse Margaret Thatchers record stay in office. People do change their minds often and there is no inherent harm in that, especially in politics. If they can’t, that is essentially a bad thing because circumstances and experiences shape and form us and we should be open to that as political actors; if we are not we become fossils. However, what generally do not change are people’s hearts.
In her heart, Mrs May is deeply authoritarian and it is her egoism and hubris that I find sinister. Her time at the Home Office was marked not just by her much maligned, and publicised, failure to deliver on immigration but also by massive attempts to increase state power – including the infamous ‘Snoopers Charter’ – her new Brexit Secretary ended up in the bizarre position of taking his new boss to court, ironically, an EU one.
Her leadership campaign was marked at its end by what appeared to be the ruthless dispatch of Andrea Leadsom via the medium of a carefully coordinated ambush in the pages of The Times newspaper. Mrs Leadsom’s comments in support of her own campaign and character were made to look like a low-blow attack on Mrs May, something Mrs Leadsom explicitly sought to avoid in the infamous interview:
“Yes. I am sure Theresa will be really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t’ because I think that would be really horrible, but genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.”
I have no doubt Mrs May and/or her team lay at the centre of the ensuring faux outrage – of course that is far from being proven but then again these things rarely are demonstrably provable because if they were then they would not be considered a legitimate weapon of war in politics. So while I stress this is purely conjecture and speculation, I would argue it is fair conjecture. Further display of these character traits came in her recently rejection of the TV debates – “the choice is already clear” she declared.
Forget Remain v Brexit or even Election v Non-Election (both occasions on which Mrs May has changed her mind drastically). The pretext she has called on this election is demonstrably false. As The Economist rightly points out:
Mrs May says the election is necessary to protect the Brexit process from mischievous opposition parties that plan to derail it. That is nonsense: although most MPs, including her own, campaigned to Remain, they have dutifully upheld the referendum result in Parliament.
Her motivation is more likely to do with self-preservation (her majority could have been ended by the looming CPS cases) and an egoistic yielding to the temptation to finally, as she sees it, smash Labour and UKIP. So it is nothing to do with Brexit.
However, none of this will matter to most Kippers as long as she delivers on what she is purportedly going to promise – ‘hard’ or clean Brexit. The above however should give them pause for thought. So should the fact that if she does smash UKIP and Labour and the Liberal Democrats do well then as The Economist again points out:
The Liberal Democrats, reduced to just eight seats at the last election, are the most pro-EU force in British politics. Their resurgence – and the likely collapse of the vote for the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party – would increase the ranks of Remainers in Parliament and encourage the Conservatives to choose Eurosensible candidates in marginal seats.
People who are inclined to trust Mrs May to deliver ‘Hard Brexit’ should read the whole Economist editorial because it lays bare the reason the establishment is so gleefully behind Mrs May, and they should listen to Ruth Davidson who makes a very similar point to the Economist. The signs are there for all to see that is all is not as it seems and that putting our trust in Mrs May is likely to lead to a very big disappointment.