When Theresa May became UK Prime Minister last July, one of her opening statements was, ‘Brexit means Brexit…and we’re going to make a success of it.‘ She assumed the mantle in a febrile atmosphere, with the country divided between those who voted to leave the EU and those who chose to remain. Since then we have seen both the high court and supreme court rule that article 50 of the Lisbon treaty could not be triggered without the express approval of both parliament and the House of Lords. That approval was granted last month, with Theresa May officially triggering article 50 on March 29th.
Ever since that moment, the public narrative of Brexit has shifted from division and disunity to the narrative of wanting to make the most out of a difficult situation. ‘Getting the best deal for Britain‘, as May puts it.
Three weeks on, and May has called for a surprise snap general election to take place on Thursday June the 8th. In her announcement today, the Prime Minister gave particular emphasis to three qualities: Certainty, Stability and Strong Leadership. All of which she cited as essential to governing the Brexit process.
‘Britain is leaving the European Union, and there can be no turning back,‘ she said in front of number ten. In the time that May has been leader of the Conservatives, she has maintained consistency in her messaging on Brexit. Never once has she deviated from ‘Brexit means Brexit‘.
In her six minute statement, May proclaimed that repeated warnings of economic decline in the run up to the referendum had proved unfounded. She said consumer confidence remained high, record numbers of jobs are being created, and economic growth has ‘exceeded expectations‘. Now that the government had followed through on their pledge to invoke article 50, Britain would now be ‘free to chart its own way in the world‘. She went on to say that the UK would be ‘free to strike trade deals with “old friends” and “new partners”‘.
Everything May recited up to this point was to be achieved ‘in the national interest‘.
Next came full utilisation of the false left/right paradigm that will inevitably dominate the next seven weeks of campaigning. Whilst the ‘country is coming together, Westminster is not,’ May said. ‘At this moment of enormous national significance, there should be unity in Westminster‘. Labour were threatening to vote against the final agreement, whilst the Liberal Democrats want to ‘grind government business to a standstill‘. The SNP, meanwhile, will according to May vote against the legislation that formerly repeals Britain’s membership of the EU.
She reserved special mention for the House of Lords, who she denounced as an ‘unelected‘ chamber who have ‘vowed to fight the government every step of the way‘.
Combined, both opposition parties and the Lords were, in May’s view, adjoined in trying to disrupt the Brexit process. But disrupting or fighting against a process is not the same thing as preventing it from taking place. When it actually came down to parliamentary votes, both the House of Commons and House of Lords made the road to triggering article 50 relatively painless. Indeed, the Lords returned the final Brexit bill without any amendments, meaning its passage was without obstacle.
After months of rhetoric about impeding article 50, in the end no such opposition came to fruition, which has left those campaigning to remain and especially supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party feeling a mix of despondency and bemusement.
May stated clearly how she was ‘not prepared to let opposition parties endanger the security of millions of working people.‘ Without an election now, the ‘political game-playing will continue, and ‘negotiations would reach the most difficult stage in the run up to the next election in 2020‘.
‘We need a general election and we need one now,’ May declared.
But here is where her speech took a more revealing turn. The snap election she is calling for is ‘a one off chance to get this (Brexit) done‘, and most intriguingly, was a decision that May ‘only recently and reluctantly‘ had come to. Her ‘reluctance‘ was something she reiterated further into her statement.
Theresa May had previously been defiant in her wish not to call for an early general election. ‘Now, the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election‘.
Standing in the way of that certainty and stability is a Westminster divided (although there hasn’t been any evidence of this up to now given the ease at which article 50 went through parliament). This was a division which May said would cause ‘damaging uncertainty and instability‘ and cast doubt on the success of Brexit. Britain’s negotiating arm with the EU, according to May, will be stronger the more people vote Conservative.
You’ll have noticed up to this point that the Prime Minister had yet to make any reference to domestic policies outside of Brexit. That’s because this election is not being fought over domestic policies. From now until June 8th, issues such as the economy and the NHS will be but a sideshow to the main event of Britain leaving the European Union. Proof of this came when May said now was the time for the government and opposition parties to, ‘put forward plans for Brexit and alternative programs for government‘.
She then outlined the choice faced by the electorate. ‘Strong, stable leadership in the national interest‘, or ‘a weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn and propped up by the Lib Dems who want to reopen referendum divisions, and the SNP‘.
Reaction from opposition parties was immediate. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron proclaimed Theresa May’s party as the ‘Conservative Brexit Government‘, emphasising that, ‘if you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.‘
As expected, the Liberal Democrats will be contesting this election off the back of Brexit, which means that Farron is treating the election as a second referendum on membership of the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn made only the briefest mention of Brexit in his response (which is no surprise given the safe passage of article 50 that Corbyn demanded of his MP’s). Corbyn said, ‘Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS‘.
Rather than be Brexit minded, Corbyn wants to change the dynamic and bring focus back to domestic policies, a plan that I believe is doomed to failure. Once a passionate skeptic of the EU project, the Jeremy Corbyn of today is conciliatory towards the European Union and has backtracked on over thirty years of taking a principled stand against it.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon criticised the decision for a snap election, saying the Conservatives will use the election to ‘move the UK to the right, force through a hard Brexit and impose deeper cuts‘.
From here on in, the Lib Dems and SNP are likely going to force the narrative that Brexit is a process which the Conservatives own, and in pushing through a ‘hard Brexit‘ the Tories are lurching to ‘the right‘. This will further cement the impression that Brexit is a phenomenon built upon the foundations of reactionary conservatism and right wing ‘populism‘, which ignores the fact that many thousands of working class voters in Labour heartlands opted to vote leave in the referendum last year. Progressive Propaganda at its most shameless.
As for how this snap election is likely to play out, I perceive it as a path towards establishing a definitive Conservative majority in the House of Commons, in the window before Brexit negotiations begin. The fervour that greeted the referendum result last year has diminished significantly since article 50 was invoked in March. The focus now is on ‘getting the best deal for Britain‘, which implies that the public is now beginning to accept the fact that Britain is leaving the European Union. The division in Westminster, and the fear mongering in the mainstream media, has concentrated minds to the idea that unity is now needed to successfully detach the UK from the EU. Fighting against the leave vote is no longer a dominant part of the narrative. People are now more concerned with the impact Brexit could have on them directly, making the necessity for a good deal of greater priority than wanting to see the UK remain inside the union.
My view is that the opposition parties stance of fighting this election as a second referendum on Brexit will put pay to their challenge and seal a victory for the Conservatives.
Consideration should also be given to the upcoming French Presidential election, and how the result their could impact on the UK. Should Marine Le Pen win, her perceived persona of being ‘far right‘ and of a fascist bent may end up being of benefit to Theresa May. A European Union appearing to turn in on itself at the same time Britain are negotiating to leave could perhaps reinforce support for vacating the EU. A lucky escape as it were.
Having said that, renowned globalist George Soros does not think Theresa May is long for the position of Prime Minister. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, he said:
“In my opinion it is unlikely that prime minister May is actually going to remain in power. Already she has a very divided cabinet, a very small majority in parliament. And I think she will not last”.
Whilst he cast doubt on May’s longevity, he also expressly stated that Britain leaving the EU is something that ‘does have to take place.’ Even Soros, an arch proponent of the EU, is no longer fighting the UK’s exit from the union. It is now instead an inevitability.
A further clue as to why the election has been called may have some connection to headlines such as this from Business Insider:
The British economy is ‘no longer shaking off the adverse consequences of the Brexit vote’
Pantheon Macroeconomics have analysed that consumer spending towards the end of 2016 was mostly funded through debt, that first quarter GDP growth this year will flat line, and that wages show no prospect of rising despite the recent spike in inflation. If accurate, this exposes what I discussed in a previous blog post about false fundamentals disguising the fact that the real economy is both stagnating and enveloped in trillions of pounds of debt.
In a further example of false fundamentals, the IMF raised their global economic forecast today whilst in the same breath reinforcing the threat of ‘protectionism‘. IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld took the opportunity to emphasise the risk of ‘trade warfare‘ damaging the global economy:
“The global economy seems to be gaining momentum — we could be at a turning point. However, the post-World War II system of international economic relations is under severe strain despite the aggregate benefits it has delivered — and precisely because growth and the resulting economic adjustments have too often entailed unequal rewards”.
Given that this snap election will be dominated by the single issue of Brexit, serious and in depth discussion about the state of the economy will once again be denied.
I may be wrong, but Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party will probably wake up decimated come June the 9th, with Corbyn having no option but to resign as leader. Chaotic or otherwise, the Brexit process would continue with an overwhelming Conservative majority.
The project would then begin on rebuilding the Labour party as a centrist, progressive party led by an equally centrist, progressive candidate.
I would envisage Chuka Umunna putting his name forward. Umunna is intimately connected with Brexit through his role as chair of Vote Leave Watch, a campaign to,
hold politicians in the Vote Leave campaign to account for the promises they made during the 2016 EU referendum. We will do so in the interests of all voters, from the 48% who feel devastated by the result, to the 52% who will want to see promises fulfilled.
Brexit will mean Brexit. The UK will leave the union with or without a trade deal with the EU. By that time the political and economic environment will look very different to how it does now. Economic pressures and a depletion in people’s purchasing power can turn political sentiment on a dime. A loss today is a victory tomorrow. That has and continues to be the basic principle of the right / left political paradigm. Whichever side suits the mood of the moment is utilised by globalist institutions for their own ends. The same institutions that remain constant as governments rise and fall.
Brexit is part of a long term agenda that will play out over several years. Should it be used as a trigger for an upcoming economic decline, Labour under a centrist like Chuka Umunna would stand to benefit, and in turn would begin the process of combating the ‘populist‘ narrative still growing today throughout the West.
I believe the Conservatives will win an increased majority in June. What happens after that, however, will prove to be of greater significance. Labour’s downfall in 2017 could quite easily show itself further in to be a calculated step towards the party assuming power within the next five years. By 2022 (or sooner), this current breed of nationalist / ‘populist‘ sentiment espoused by Donald Trump and factions within the European Union will likely be headlong into its inevitable decline. It will have achieved its intended purpose.
Meanwhile, the institutions that the global economy is beholden to will remain in tact, as will the drive to fully centralise both economic and political governance.