Ed­i­to­ri­als: The Tory dis­as­ter in Bri­tain

Theresa May hangs on, but with a slip­pery grip as prime min­is­ter

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY -

Theresa May is hang­ing on as the prime min­is­ter in Great Bri­tain, but her grip is slip­ping and the Tories are try­ing to get a blood trans­fu­sion from a tiny fourth (or maybe fifth) party from North­ern Ire­land, just to sur­vive.

The Con­ser­va­tives re­main by a com­fort­able mar­gin the largest party in the king­dom, but fell con­sid­er­ably short of a ma­jor­ity. They can re­main in con­trol of the govern­ment if the Demo­cratic Union­ist Party will pledge their 10 mem­bers in Par­lia­ment to stand with her on cru­cial votes. That might not be easy.

If Mrs. May can’t put to­gether an ar­range­ment, Jeremy Cor­byn, the leader of the La­bor Party, which ran sec­ond, will get an op­por­tu­nity to try to put to­gether a coali­tion. That wouldn’t be easy, ei­ther. But the Bri­tish in­vented “mud­dling through.” Whether Mrs. May’s govern­ment, or the govern­ment of some­one else, it will have to get on with ne­go­ti­at­ing the Bri­tish exit from the Euro­pean Union, and the petty bu­reau­crats — and the big­ger bu­reau­crats in Brus­sels who are be­ing as petty as they can be — won’t make that easy, ei­ther.

The bu­reau­crats are mak­ing it dif­fi­cult be­cause they don’t want to give other na­tions, Italy be­ing one, the idea that they can leave, too. An al­ter­na­tive, says one bit­ter wit, is to make the other na­tions mere prov­inces of Ger­many, and be done with it.

Cer­tain se­nior Con­ser­va­tives blame Mrs. May for the mis­er­able Tory cam­paign, and are fur­ther ir­ri­tated that now she won’t go away qui­etly. When she called the “snap elec­tion” six weeks ago the poll­sters told her she would likely win by 20 points over La­bor and the clutch of mi­nor par­ties, but the lead slowly dis­solved in a cam­paign marked by stum­bling, bum­bling and missed op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The cam­paign was fur­ther roiled by rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism, whole­sale massacre in Manch­ester and lesser massacre in Lon­don. Out­rage fol­lowed, and Mrs. May de­fi­antly told a rally just days be­fore the elec­tions that “enough is enough,” and promised a crack­down harsh enough to be ef­fec­tive. But it was not enough. Jeremy Cor­byn is a true left-wing rad­i­cal, and was thought un­likely to over­come sus­pi­cions from past as­so­ci­a­tions with the Ir­ish Repub­li­can Army and mil­i­tants who ap­peal to many Mus­lims in the slums of Lon­don and other large cities. Im­mi­gra­tion, all but un­con­trolled, has trans­formed neigh­bor­hoods into no-go zones.

The early fa­vorites to re­place Theresa May, if she is in­deed re­placed, are Boris John­son, 57, the for­eign sec­re­tary who was once a pop­u­lar mayor of Lon­don; Am­ber Rudd, 58, the Home Sec­re­tary and ris­ing Tory star, and David Davis, 67, the min­is­ter as­signed to ne­go­ti­ate the exit from the Euro­pean Union and a vet­eran of Bri­tish pol­i­tics.

The book­ies — bet­ting is le­gal in Bri­tain and bet­ting shops abound — have es­tab­lished Mr. John­son as the fa­vorite. He de­clined Fri­day to say he sup­ports Mrs. May to stay in of­fice, say­ing it was still early. He would be the first Amer­i­can-born prime min­is­ter. A New Yorker, he might use the de­vice of Dou­glas MacArthur, who wanted to be a Vir­ginian and said he was born in the Old Do­min­ion “when my mother was tem­po­rar­ily in Arkansas.” But there is no re­quire­ment that prime min­is­ters be na­tive born, and if Mr. John­son could sur­vive his full name, Alexan­der Boris de Pf­ef­fel John­son, he could prob­a­bly sur­vive hav­ing born an Amer­i­can.

He’s the master of the quip and the quick re­sponse, which de­spite his con­ser­va­tive pol­i­tics make him pop­u­lar with re­porters and pun­dits on the scout for a col­or­ful quote. He once said his chances for be­ing prime min­is­ter “are about as good as the chances of find­ing Elvis on Mars, or my be­ing rein­car­nated as an olive.”

But that was then, and this is now, when all things if not new are dif­fer­ent. “I have dis­cov­ered,” he said on an­other oc­ca­sion, “there are no dis­as­ters, only op­por­tu­ni­ties. And, in­deed, op­por­tu­ni­ties for fresh dis­as­ters.”

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