Brexiteers Come to Terms with Reality

David Davis and Michel Barnier, the Brexit negotiators for the United Kingdom and the European Union, deliver a news conference in Brussels, June 19, 2017
David Davis and Michel Barnier, the Brexit negotiators for the United Kingdom and the European Union, deliver a news conference in Brussels, June 19, 2017 (European Commission)

Euroskeptics in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party are finally coming to terms with the realities of Brexit.

  • They once rejected working out the terms of Britain’s exit before negotiating a trade deal. They have since accept Europe’s timetable.
  • They once suggested Britain could leave without a deal. Now they are willing to make the concessions necessary to avoid a “hard” Brexit.
  • They once ruled out paying an exit bill. Now they are prepared to cough up £50 billion for an amicable divorce.
  • They never during the 2016 referendum campaign mentioned a transition period, during which EU rules and regulations would continue to apply. That now looks inevitable. Read more

Pressure Builds on May As Brexit Hardliners Close Ranks

British prime minister Theresa May speaks at the United Nations in New York, September 20, 2016
British prime minister Theresa May speaks at the United Nations in New York, September 20, 2016 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

Pressure is building on Britain’s Theresa May as Brexit and the ambitions of her foreign secretary widen divisions in the ruling Conservative Party:

  • The Sunday Times reports that forty Conservative lawmakers are now calling for a confidence vote in May’s premiership, eight short of the number required to trigger a leadership election.
  • Daily Mail reports that pro-Brexit ministers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are holding May hostage by threatening to walk out unless she pushes for a clean break with the EU.
  • Gove and David Davis, another Brexit hardliner, have rushed to Johnson’s defense after the foreign secretary mistakingly said a British NGO worker was held in Iran for “simply teaching people journalism” there. Iranian prosecutors seized on his statement to argue for extending Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s prison sentence. She has been accused of plotting against the Iranian state. Read more

Conservatives Pay the Price for Putting Party Before Country

Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau of Canada and Theresa May of the United Kingdom inspect an honor guard in Ottawa, September 18
Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau of Canada and Theresa May of the United Kingdom inspect an honor guard in Ottawa, September 18 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

Britain’s Conservatives are paying the price for putting party before country.

Theresa May, the prime minister, only elevated Boris Johnson and Priti Patel to the cabinet last year because she felt she needed to appease the pro-Brexit wing of her party.

Both had supported an exit from the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

Both have now done harm to British diplomacy and possibly put a British citizen in danger. Read more

British Conservatives Face Three Structural Challenges

British prime minister Theresa May attends an EU summit in Tallinn, Estonia, September 28
British prime minister Theresa May attends an EU summit in Tallinn, Estonia, September 28 (EU2017EE/Annika Haas)

The United Kingdom’s Conservative Party has arguably been one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. It dominated British politics from 1886 to 1906, from 1918 to 1945, from 1951 to 1964 and from 1979 to 1997. It is now in government since 2010.

Yet, as the party assembles in Manchester this week for its annual conference, there is a sense of decline. Conservative membership is down. Brexit has cost them the youth vote. And the political landscape has shifted in Labour’s favor. Read more

Boris Johnson Makes One More Bid for Relevance

London mayor Boris Johnson poses for a photo, November 24, 2011
London mayor Boris Johnson poses for a photo, November 24, 2011 (i-Images/Andrew Parsons)

When Theresa May named Boris Johnson foreign secretary last year, she wisely took the Brexit and international-trade portfolios away from him. This way, she contained the damage the buffoonish Johnson could do to both British foreign policy and her premiership.

But the former mayor of London’s appetite for higher office and publicity is never satisfied.

This week, he rattled Conservatives with a long opinion piece in The Telegraph (a right-wing newspaper he used to work for) that can only be read as a challenge to May. Read more

Conservatives Need to Make Capitalism Work for Everyone: Davidson

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson
Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson (Scottish Conservatives)

It is not inequality that bothers Brits, argues Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative Party leader, in the new online magazine UnHerd. It’s injustice.

People expect that the CEO of a corporation will be the highest paid person on the payroll. What they don’t accept is that FTSE 100 bosses are paid 174 times the average worker’s wage in this decade — compared to 13 to 44 times in 1980.

Especially when many of their companies have received either big fraud-related fines or bailouts from the state.

The distinction matters, because it goes to a broader point. Read more

Once the Party of Stability, Conservatives Now Provoke Unrest

British prime minister Theresa May and American president Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, January 27
British prime minister Theresa May and American president Donald Trump speak in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, January 27 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Jay Allen)

Kate Maltby argues in The Guardian that Britain’s Conservative Party has lost its way.

For centuries, Conservatives warned against the dangers of too much change too quickly, she points out. They argued revolutions leave children starving and adults bleeding. That stability leads to prosperity. That inequality is a price worth paying for economic growth.

Don’t rock the boat, don’t scare the banks and the middle classes get their quiet life.

Remember the “long-term economic plan”? It was only two years ago that David Cameron couldn’t stop talking about.

Then his party brought Brexit on the United Kingdom. Read more