Saturday, June 10, 2017

Why UK’s PM May won’t last 3 months

The UK election was a disaster for Theresa May. She wanted a strong majority (40+ seats) to allow her to cope with a handful or more of dissenting Tory MPs in the House, and secondarily (and a far less important reason) to send a message to the EU that the House strongly supported her hard Brexit stance.

And she wanted her tenure as prime minister to be legitimate in the sense that she had won an election and not just filled a vacant spot when Cameron fell on his sword.

Now she needs 324 seats to pass confidence bills (mostly financial ones) and she only won 318. There are 4 seats won by MPs who don’t take their seats in the House and therefore don’t vote, so she does not need 326 seats (half of 650 plus 1).

So she turned to a right wing party firmly rooted in the past and in northern Ireland, the DUP.  They have 10 seats which with her 318 put her at 328, 4 more than she needs.

But her hold on the Tory party will splinter within months.

Why? Because the DUP do not agree with May’s hard brexit negotiation posture:

She has been forced to cobble together a minority government with support of the Democratic Unionists, a small party based in Northern Ireland that won 10 seats and doesn’t support her hard-Brexit strategy. She also has to face a rejuvenated Labour Party under Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who picked up 31 extra seats and also firmly rejects her Brexit plans.

As soon as questions arise in the House regarding the negotiation position of May, she can expect the DUP to disagree with a hard exit policy. If she is forced to rely on them and has to trim her hard exist policy, this will lead a big enough group of hard exit Tory MP supporters to break from her, and she will lose the vote.

And she cannot expect either the LibDems or Labour to support her hard Brexit stance.
Paul Waldie has summarized this sword of Damocles’ vary aptly (my bolding):

Most analysts doubt the Tory-DUP alliance will last long and many say Ms. May will have to abandon her hard-Brexit stand and seek compromise. And that could lead to years of turmoil as Britain faces the constant threat of the government collapsing just as it negotiates Brexit with the EU.

“At any point a tiny number of either Conservatives or Democratic Unionist MPs could say ‘we won’t put up with this’ on anything that happens,” said Tony Travers, a professor of government at the London School of Economics. “That’s exactly why she wanted a majority, so she wouldn’t be at risk of small groups within Parliament undermining her capacity to govern.”

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, said on Friday that her party will work with Ms. May but won’t accept her Brexit terms.

“No one wants to see a hard Brexit; what we want to see is a workable plan to leave the European Union,” Ms. Foster said.

She is mindful that a majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU during last year’s Brexit referendum and there are fears in the province that Brexit could lead to the return of a hard border with Ireland. The border was eliminated as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended the Troubles. Business leaders and economists say any return of a frontier would be devastating ...

So that leads back to Corbyn and his Labour Party.

And their task is very simple: to engineer a vote of confidence in May’s hard Brexit stance so that her majority dissolves. The trick will be to make such a vote linked to a financial vote, so that it becomes a confidence vote that could bring the government down, and that would require the DUP to support May’s hard Brexit position.

Is the Labour Party bright enough to engineer such a fall?

Methinks they are.

Just look at their brilliant moves to capture and then motivate hundreds of thousands of young people to turn out and vote for them.

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