In one of the several low points of her stunningly inept general election campaign, Theresa May warned that Jeremy Corbyn would be “alone and naked” in the Brexit negotiating chamber. This week, though, it is Mrs May herself who has been revealed as Brexit’s empress with no clothes. Everything about her performance in Brussels over the last two days has underlined both the larger national tragedy of Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the deepening personal failure of Mrs May’s attempts to deliver it.
The post-Brexit future of EU citizens in this country, and of our citizens in the EU are widespread concerns across our continent. The uncertainty reaches into thousands of homes and affects millions of lives, especially of young people. Mrs May’s insensitive handling of it is both characteristic and a glumly indicative example of a wider Brexit problem that stretches to every horizon.
Britain’s decision to leave the EU was lamentable when it was taken. It remains lamentable now. If it is ever carried out, it will still be lamentable in the future. That is not going to change.
……… The Guardian
What a paradoxical story we shall tell our grandchildren about Brexit. The little ones will climb on our knee and we will recall how we bravely seized our independence from hated Brussels, only to destroy our country. Their infant brows will furrow in confusion when we tell them that in order to make Britain great again, we smashed it to pieces.
Was this some kind of terrible accident, they will ask. And we will have to say no, this was deliberate. Our leaders thought escaping the European Union was so vital it was worth shattering the deeper, closer union that had defined our country for more than three centuries. So great was their professed patriotism that they had to break the thing they loved.
May’s eagerness to be the first foreign leader to shake that short-fingered hand, the scramble to catch up with Nigel Farage and Michael Gove, gave off a strong whiff of desperation.
Trump managed to get through it without insulting an entire ethnic group, trashing a democratic norm or declaring war, any of which might have diverted attention from May’s big moment. He was on best behaviour, diligently reading the script that had been written for him, attesting to the “deep bond” that connects Britain and the US. May received all the assurances she craved that her country’s relationship with the US remains “special”.
However, these are not normal times. May and her team will be pleased with the optics and indeed some of the substance – artfully, May got Trump to confirm, on camera, that he is “100% behind Nato” – but the underlying truth is that this dash to Washington was mortifying.
Desperation is a scent Trump understands. What he lacks in book smarts, he makes up for in alpha male gamesmanship. His lifelong training was in real estate, an area in which there is rarely such thing as a win-win deal: the more you get, the more I pay.
He will have seen May as that most desperate of creatures: the housebuyer who rashly sold her old house before she had found a new one. Having tossed away Britain’s keys to the European single market, she will soon be homeless – and Trump knows it. For all the niceties – May’s shrewd deployment of a royal invitation for a state visit and her compliment to the president on his “stunning election victory”, flattery which saw Trump glow a brighter shade of orange – he will have seen May as a sucker who needs to make a deal. And he will look forward to naming his price.
Hold off the jibes and sighs over how much poorer Brexit Britain will be. Forget about the mendacity and slipperiness of Boris ’n’ Nigel. In the six months since the referendum these have been the clever arguments to make, the ones that fill the sophisticated newspapers and BBC discussions. But none answer the far simpler and much harder question: then what? What happens when 17 million people get the feeling they’ve been cheated?
That will be the most profound question in British politics, not just in 2017 but for many years to come. As the broken promises of Brexit pile up one on top of the other, so that they are visible from Sunderland, from Great Yarmouth, from Newport, what will the leave voters do then?
David Cameron’s chancer-like gamble, taken for tactical internal party-management reasons, turned out to be the worst political mistake made by any British prime minister in my lifetime.
Theresa May’s government has no strategy, and leading Brexiters do not agree among themselves.
Many of the people who were misled by the Brexit propaganda, indeed by the Brexiters’ outright lies, during the referendum campaign reportedly voted to stop payments to the EU and reduce migration from the EU – migration, by the way, which in every year since we joined the union in 1973 has been less than inward migration from outside the EU.
Three-quarters of Labour supporters voted Remain. When the seriousness of the prospective damage from Brexit becomes more apparent – almost certainly hitting the very people who felt “left out” and ignored by the so-called “metropolitan elite” – Labour may summon the courage to be more forthright about the folly of Brexit.
In a country polarized and paralyzed, an unchecked authoritarian right-wing populism, Trumpism without Trump, is coming to define the political culture.
David Bowie died, and it was all downhill from there. That’s how 2016 felt if you were on the losing side of Britain’s referendum on membership in the European Union.
Post-Brexit Britain is now mired in crisis. The ruling Conservative government, lacking any coherent plan for leaving the union, is embroiled in a bitter legal fight over the process, while a divided opposition contemplates the disintegration of its electoral coalition.
New York Times
The age of such drab characters as Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron is over. No more, it appears, must we suffer leaders equipped with a brain and a sense of the common interest. The hour of the political clown has come.
In a few short weeks, Boris Johnson, the former journalist, for whom facts were never an obstacle likely to get in the way of a good story, has succeeded in squandering what little sympathy and understanding was left in Europe for a Great Britain embroiled in the mess of this referendum.
It will be a “hard Brexit” not because that is what Theresa May wants, but because her future ex-partners consider they have no choice faced with a Great Britain so resolutely indecisive.
If you want something from someone, it is generally wiser to avoid telling them they are an idiot.