British Home Secretary Resigns, Italy’s Five Stars Make Overture

Amber Rudd misled lawmakers on immigration. Luigi Di Maio argues his party has a lot in common with the Democrats.

British home secretary Amber Rudd attends a conference at the Vatican, October 27, 2016
British home secretary Amber Rudd attends a conference at the Vatican, October 27, 2016 (UK in Holy See)

British home secretary Amber Rudd has resigned for misleading lawmakers about her migration policy.

She told Parliament there was no Home Office target for deportations, but then The Guardian revealed she had written to Prime Minister Theresa May about her aim to increase “enforced removals” by 10 percent.

Politico reports that Rudd’s departure — the fourth by a cabinet minister in six months — risks destabilizing May’s government at a time when it is negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. Rudd was one of the leading pro-EU Conservatives and seen as a potential future party leader.

The scandal also shines a spotlight on May’s failure to develop a new immigration policy almost two years after the Brexit referendum in which it played such a major role.

Five Stars make overture

The leader of Italy’s Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, has made a fresh overture to the Democrats.

In a letter published by Corriere Della Sera, he argues that the two parties have things in common: support for remaining in the EU (the Five Stars no longer call for leaving the euro), reducing poverty, raising the minimum wage.

Di Maio mentions Denmark’s “flexicurity” model as a possible inspiration. Labor reform has been the biggest obstacle to a pact. The Five Stars campaigned on overturning the legacy of outgoing Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi, who made it easier for companies to hire and fire workers.

Renzi still opposes negotiations with the populists, who denied him a second term as prime minister. Others in the Democratic Party are less intransigent.

Political replays

Jonah Goldberg believes that our political battles are endless replays of a fundamental tension in the Western mind.

We constantly hear “new” arguments for the old idea that we must retreat to the tribe and embrace the sense of belonging we get from the group, where all meaning is bound together.

The group is our religion and our family and our politics and our entertainment. The details and rationales change with the times, as do the supposedly sacred units — nationalism, the moral equivalent of war, racism, socialism, communism — but the underlying idea is always the same.

Against this stands the uniquely Western proposition that we all have the right to pursue our own happiness and that therefore we have a right to be wrong, at least in the eyes of others.

This reminds me of Larry Siedentop, who argues in Inventing the Individual (2014) that what set the West apart from the rest of the world was its embrace of individual salvation and individual self-worth, derived from Christianity and the basis of liberalism.

Also read my post from December about how today’s conflict between open and closed, cosmopolitan and communitarian, is the latest chapter in the West’s long-running struggle between Enlightenment universalism and Romantic nationalism.