Now entering into the last week of the snap election campaign, which promised to be a very boring affair, there is a sense of excitement in the air. The lady of U-turns, who tried to sneak through the campaign as strong and stable leader is left to claim that her opponent just has 11 days to prepare for Brexit negotiations should he become her successor. Her opponent surfs on a wave of support as no one predicted.
It has become clear to many that her undemocratic attempts to avoid votes in the parliament, the creation of facts with triggering Art. 50 and finally the late calling of snap election in the light of too good to be true polling data was the result of her insecurity regarding public appearances. Now arguing, that she should stay as prime minister as she has prepared for Brexit sounds like a girl claiming a goal after having redrawn the goal line to her advantage.
Does this character flaw indicate that she is best suited to negotiate with Europe or are there are traits required as well as being trustworthy, credible, consistent, honest? There is already mistrust on both sides, the current UK government and Europe. Why is that? Partly as right from the beginning there was strange disconnect between her pro Remain stance, even though a strangely subdued one and the sudden ‘Brexit is Brexit’ claim. She speaks of opportunities. What opportunities? If a country cannot flourish in the biggest single market just the Channel away, why should it flourish with still to be negotiated trade agreements with countries oceans away? The government has not come up with any concrete papers showing which British industries would prosper with trade deals with non-European countries and to which extent and showing how much this would offset the loss in trade with the EU. It seems that the opportunities after Brexit are mild hopes without any real foundation.
Theresa May also managed to create a mistrust in UK as she promised Scotland participation in the Brexit process in the beginning and never came back on this. She also promised an inclusive society. The manifesto claims with regard to dementia tax made clear that her priorities lie in the prosperity of the state, instead. A sense of dishonesty surrounds here. A sense of mistrust surrounds her party. When her Home secretary claimed in a TV discussion that people should trust the record of Tory governments, the audience laughed loud – and this was not a left leaning audience as Boris Johnson claimed the day after.
What does Theresa May really stand for? Her way of using phrases again and again, her lack of spontaneity, her fear of being caught unguarded adds to the feeling that this Prime Minister is anything but strong or trustworthy.
With May’s bad handling of expectations, it was possible that the eternal outsider Jeremy Corbyn could set the agenda. He recognized that the real issues are social issues. The majority of Brexit voters are dissatisfied with their economic and social situation. While he claims to pursue Brexit, he stresses the social issue May indicated to strengthen as well without delivering any real ideas though. How should she? She would need to change her party first. Why should the Tories pursue Brexit if they wanted to keep the European social politics – as Corbyn can promise so lightheartedly?
And in the light of May’s obvious weakness, it becomes clear that Corbyn’s calm insistence on his points of believe, unchanged, unwavered throughout the decades of his political life is an asset and with every TV appearance he bolsters the impression that he is Prime Minister material. It seems to be forgotten that he was a socialist. The Labour manifesto is rather limited in its scope. Corbyn has become a credible alternative.
Let’s be clear. He will pursue Brexit as well, but there is not the emotional ballast as it would be with a Tory government and guys like David Davies or Boris Johnson. There won’t be this irresponsible gambling attitude that could easily end in a catastrophic exit with no deal and there’s not this anti-European attitude by some Tories born from an anti-German complex. As a reminder think about Boris Johnson mocking the Beethoven ‘Ode an die Freude’ during the Brexit campaign. Theresa May displayed this, as well when she claimed that Corbyn would find himself lonely and naked in the ‘negotiation chamber’. ‘Negotation chamber’ like ‘gas chamber’? Strangely everyone in the public reacted on the ‘naked’, but no one asked why she used chamber for her image – and not just worded it ‘find himself lonely and naked in the negotiations’? And there was also one conclusion missing: If this is how she feels, does the British public really want to expose poor Theresa May to this ordeal?
The politics in the last year made one thing clear: The country has problems. Britain is searching for change. The Brexit vote seemed to channel this dissatisfaction in a nationalist anti-European sentiment. It might be that now this election might crystallize that it’s not Europe that’s the problem, even though it is too late to change the course on Brexit – thanks to Theresa May who managed to redraw the line.