Notes from a Crazy Island- Theresa May's Resignation By Stephen Barber
Britain used to have a reputation for political stability, measured debate and sensible decision making. But Brexit chaos and a takeover of the two main parties by their own extremes have put paid to that. And now Britain will have a new Prime Minister by the end of July.
When the UK secured an extension of EU membership until the 31 October it was warned not to waste the time. So far the time has been wasted with 6 weeks of pointless talks with the opposition Labour Party which inevitably went nowhere and a failed attempt to bring forward again the withdrawal deal. This angered Cabinet and the parliamentary Tory party. At long last Theresa May has been forced from office. The next two months then will be dominated by leadership campaigns.
But the reason she was able to hang on so long despite her failures and the reason a deal could not be agreed remain true. Firstly there is no obvious standout alternative to May and secondly whoever does succeed her is faced with the same parliamentary arithmetic. That is no government majority and a rejection of a hard Brexit.
The electorate in choosing the next PM is very small. Conservative MPs vote for two candidates which the wider party membership then choose between. The Tory party membership today is old, white, middle class and right wing. It is inevitable then that the winner will be a serious Brexiteer.
But whether the winner is bumptious Boris Johnson, devious Michael Gove or limited Dominic Raab they will have to work with a parliament which leans toward remain and an electorate which is divided. The EU election results are likely to be good for both the Brexit party and the pro EU Lib Dem’s. Indeed the electoral system in the Europeans demonstrated that if Britain had proportional voting both the Conservatives and Labour would be near dead.
Perhaps its first past the post system provides some stability after all in this volatile environment by preserving the two big parties. For all these reasons an early general election is likely... adding yet more drama to the mix.
Stephen Barber (@StephenBarberUK ) is Director of MBA at the University of Bedfordshire