The Herald - - OPINION -

peo­ple with­out in­ci­dent. Not enough prepa­ra­tion had been un­der­taken; the prom­ises made could not be ful­filled quickly.

She had, more­over, acted with­out con­sult­ing party or coun­try. Just as Mrs Thatcher had her poll tax, so Mrs Merkel had her refugee pol­icy. The vot­ers and party were bound to have their say sooner or later. In Mrs Merkel’s case it was a dis­as­trous show­ing in state elec­tions that sealed her fate. Mutti did not have all the an­swers af­ter all. She was just a politi­cian like any other, ca­pa­ble of de­ci­sions good and bad.

Af­ter the week she has had, Mrs May might feel uniquely bur­dened, but a quick look across Europe shows her fel­low lead­ers are liv­ing through their own in­ter­est­ing times. French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron has taken the ex­tra­or­di­nary step of seal­ing off tourist attractions in Paris this week­end for fear of fur­ther at­tacks by anti-gov­ern­ment ri­ot­ers.

In Italy, the gov­ern­ment is re­fus­ing EU de­mands to live within its means. How long can it be be­fore Ital­ians, like the Greeks be­fore them, take to the streets?

In Hun­gary and Poland, pop­ulist par­ties be­come ever bolder. All over Europe, the old main­stream party or­der is com­ing un­der strain. Vot­ers are look­ing to the mar­gins, left and right, for an­swers. All is far from well in the king­dom of the EU. The PM and the Chan­cel­lor are old school democrats who put duty first. They have both tried to rise above the fray: Mrs May tak­ing her case for a with­drawal deal to the coun­try in the hope this will per­suade MPS to back her in next Tues­day’s vote; Mrs Merkel step­ping down from the party lead­er­ship she has held since 2000, trust­ing this will be enough to sat­isfy her crit­ics.

Two women, united by a sin­gle de­sire to re­main in power. For both, be­ing at the top can never have seemed lone­lier.

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