Theresa May’s gam­ble

The prime min­is­ter calls a snap election with Brexit in the bal­ance

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Theresa May showed her­self Tues­day to be a bit of a gam­bler, but only a bit. Armed with pub­li­copin­ion polls revealing an un­usual op­por­tu­nity to trade a sure thing for a bet­ter thing, she stunned Britain, sur­prised Europe and fas­ci­nated Wash­ing­ton by calling for new par­lia­men­tary elec­tions on June 8.

She has three years to go on the term she in­her­ited in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave Europe and the con­se­quent shake-up of the gov­ern­ment, and now she’s a pro­hib­i­tive fa­vorite to win a five-year term of her own.

Re­li­able polls show her Con­ser­va­tives with enor­mous leads of 18 to 25 points over the scle­rotic La­bor Party, which ob­servers in Lon­don reckon would in­crease the Tory ma­jor­ity in the House of Com­mons from 17 seats to as many as 70 seats. This would trans­form ne­go­ti­at­ing the terms of Britain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union from a strug­gle to a con­test of equals.

Such a stun­ning vic­tory would give her new gov­ern­ment a man­date and five years to ease Britain out of Europe on its own terms and on to a po­lit­i­cal land­scape ut­terly changed. Her lot now is ne­go­ti­at­ing with Europe on terms drawn up by the petty bu­reau­crats of Brus­sels, who re­gard the May gov­ern­ment as an ac­ci­dent of his­tory. They bite con­tin­u­ously at her an­kles.

There’s the fur­ther prospect of a new vote on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence and end­less le­gal snip­ing from em­bit­tered losers in last year’s Brexit vote who, in the way of pious elites in Amer­ica, can­not be­lieve that the un­washed peas­ants made up their own minds in vot­ing to leave Europe. If the Tories win the June 8 vote she sweeps all that away.

The prospect of a sweep­ing Tory ma­jor­ity on June 8, even if just short of a land­slide, makes Mrs. May’s de­ci­sive turn look like some­thing less of a gam­ble, but prime min­is­ters do not like to take risks with their own power, as John O’Sullivan, a per­cep­tive English­man, writes in Na­tional Re­view.

“They reckon that pos­ses­sion is nine-tenths of the law. It took judg­ment, courage and a cool head for Mrs. May to choose the like­li­hood of five more years in power over the near cer­tainty of the next three. For­tune fa­vors the fair but there are no guar­an­tees. But if we as­sume that al­though the race is not al­ways to the swift [but] that’s the way to bet, what will a Tory vic­tory mean for the fu­ture?

“The first im­pact will be that Brexit be­comes a cer­tainty. None of the var­i­ous plots and ma­neu­vers against it will be able to with­stand the demo­cratic steam­roller of an election vic­tory on a pro-Brexit man­i­festo. The law­suits will wither, the [House of] Lords will re­treat, the civil ser­vants will re­dis­cover the Con­sti­tu­tion, the judges will hi­ber­nate through the win­ter of negotiations. And in Brus­sels, the prospects of the in­evi­tiable will clar­ify the minds of the Euro­crats and pre­dis­pose them to ne­go­ti­ate se­ri­ously for a deal that ben­e­fits both sides. None of the var­i­ous plots and ma­neu­vers against Brexit will be able to with­stand that demo­cratic steam­roller of an election vic­tory on a pro-Brexit man­i­festo.”

The doughty vicar’s daugh­ter trades her rep­u­ta­tion as a res­o­lute but cau­tious leader to a de­ci­sive leader of bold­ness and re­solve al­most in the mold of Margaret Thatcher (though there’s so only one Mag­gie). By win­ning on her own, she can trans­form her­self from Theresa May to Theresa Will.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.