Leadership failures cost Britain dearly
Britain’s chaotic Brexit saga lurches towards a peak this week, with Theresa May’s withdrawal deal being put to a vote in the House of Commons.
The vote was delayed last year to give the Prime Minister extra time to convince MPs to support it. The numbers reportedly aren’t there. Barring the unexpected, the vote will be defeated.
Should that happen, and unless there is a legal change between now and March 29, Britain will crash out of the EU. If the vote fails, Britain will be squarely in “what now?” territory.
The Labour Party is expected to table a motion of no confidence in the Government — to push for a new election. May would have to come up with a new plan. MPs will push alternatives, such as a second referendum. The PM might have to open formal talks with Labour.
Long before now, there should have been formal cross-party, leadership-level talks. A unity summit, even the creation of a crisis cabinet, would have helped.
After elections, there is no regular expectation of coalition talks and multi-party formal agreements on the scale we are used to under MMP. The main parties are controlled by two partisan leaders in May and Jeremy Corbyn. It’s hard not to think that a strong, pragmatic leader in the style of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would never have allowed Brexit political chaos to snowball the way it has.
Surely the best approach after the Brexit referendum in 2016 would have been to set up regular multi-party consultation and combined input on planning. Then — as reporting emerged about the leave campaign’s funding, promises that didn’t fit with reality, and the scope of the challenge — adjustments could have been made and an inquiry launched.
With Brexit and the US government shutdown, billions are being wasted in preference to seeking deals. The British Government is throwing money away at no-deal preparation when it could request an extension of the deadline or cancel Brexit.
The US shutdown is leaking billions even though Congress could pass a bill opening the government up, with the Senate overriding President Trump’s veto. Time has also been wasted in both cases.
The Republican Party controlled the US government for two years — plenty of time to put through money for the wall. In Britain, MPs are now left scurrying for an 11th-hour solution.