How did Theresa May get this far?

PUBLISHED: 16:24 13 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:57 13 July 2017

How did she get this far?

How did she get this far?

Archant

Prime Minister Theresa May has become a much diminished figure on the world stage

Whether you care for Theresa May or not, the sight right now of the PM of Great Britain on the world stage should give none of us pleasure. She has become a diminished figure.

Next to the Queen she represents the nation to the world, and now the world sees a nation trying to find its way. The world stage is peppered with various characters who could take us to the brink of an unimaginable conflagration. The latest description of the Trump administration – “like a Bugs Bunny movie” – should make us stop and pause: because this is an assessment of the President of the United States.

Great Britain – whether this is true or false – has always seemed to be the Sane One, the “reliable boyfriend” who, through dint of sheer Britishness, could get everyone around the table in some sort of air of reasonableness.

Every PM – Conservative or Labour – has traded on this. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair – the two PMs who history will show made the biggest mark on British history toward the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st – understood this innately. Whether they used this knowledge in the best interest of the nation, the region and the world, history will be, as always, the final judge.

But they knew and understood The Face Of Britain To The World. In other words: its brand. Just as Emmanuel Macron understands the position and history of France within Europe and the world. Whether he is correct, the French people, and the world, too, will decide. He does not have much time.

Adam Boulton asked Matt Kelly, editor of this paper, during an interview on Sky, if The New European was a “comfort blanket”. Matt’s answer implied that perhaps this was true at first, but now this newspaper is much more.

In part, it’s about the Winds Of Change. This understanding of political weather; the gift of anticipation of trends, etc; the ability to “get” their message, is what Theresa May lacks.

It’s fascinating that she has come this far in politics, which in its name implies ‘people’. David Cameron put her in charge of the Home Office, and it was she who allowed the so-called “racist van” to roll through the streets of the nation. It was a dog whistle to various denizens of the right of her party and also to UKIP, which was, in effect, eating the Tories’ lunch. That UKIP did not register on the radar at this past general election shows that voters went home to the Conservatives. And to Labour.

A great politico can sense this kind of thing coming. In hindsight, Jeremy Corbyn’s eternal campaign mirrors Trump’s in that it delivers news to followers, and receives news, on the ground. It bypasses the traditional media by engaging and pinpointing the winds of change; the shift in the public mood. The People are engaged. Their engagement, on all sides of the spectrum, is the factor in determining policy going forward.

Donald Trump knows this. Trump has the feral instincts of the born huckster, he’s like a snake-oil salesman out of the Wild West.

The cult American TV Western from the late ‘50s, Trackdown, has an eerie episode that you can see on YouTube under the title “Trump/Trackdown”. In it, a huckster dressed a bit like a clown, rolls into a Wild West town with the guarantee that he can build a wall against Mexicans and Native Americans. The citizens of the town gather around his covered wagon to listen to his oratory, his promises.

Of course, the people who run the town know that a wall is impossible. Someone asks the name of the huckster and he’s told that his name is: ”Trump”. That the past itself can emerge to give us a warning could be an indication that something is being played over again. Matthew Parris, the Times columnist, believes it is Suez.

Emmanuel Macron, who, in his relatively brief life has made most of his dreams come true, can be seen as a counterpoint to Trump. He rejects the Orange One’s sheer vulgarity. The word “vulgar” implies the ordinary people – i.e. the ones who suffer the most when leaders get it wrong. The wily Macron seems to understand Trump’s need for glitz and pomp and ceremony, and will woo him like a potentate luring the chief dancing girl into his tent.

Neither Thatcher nor Blair were vulgar. On the surface.

But Blair, stumbling out into the light 20 years ago this August to proclaim the newly late Princess Diana the “People’s Princess”, is an indication of this ability to catch a mood-of vulgarity. But Blair spectacularly and fatally misjudged his gift at the dawn of the Iraq War.

Theresa May can’t lose this gift, this facility to catch the mood, sniff the winds. She doesn’t have it to lose. That she doesn’t could be fatal, not just for her but for “The Will Of the People”.

One of her – and the Conservative Party’s – biggest warnings is this: the big money investor’s channel Bloomberg TV is starting to price in Jeremy Corbyn. Where he was once considered a ludicrous relic from the 1970s and early 1980s, he’s now being considered the man to watch. He took Tory votes, after all.

Corbyn was given a very respectful interview after his CBI address. The organisation, by the way, is largely in agreement with him, a shaker that Bloomberg TV duly noted in awe. When asked by the host if there was a chance that Corbyn might become PM, his interviewer replied: “What can I say? The guy has an aura about him. He looks good.”

But there is still the question of Brexit. You would need a Ouija board to explain precisely where his party stands. It is out, but wants tariff-free access to the single market. There are a lot of smart people at the top of Labour. One of them must have asked the question: “Why would the EU agree to that?” In the matter of the ECJ, the headquarters of Big Brother for the likes of many on the Tory Right, Labour has said little publicly. Taking EU citizens out of the jurisdiction of the EU creates another category of EU citizen: those who live in the UK.

Allowing the UK to be out of Freedom of Movement, one of the cornerstones of the EU, would create yet another exception. Why would the EU do that? The UK is a small nation with an open economy. It must trade, and trade with the least amount of distance as possible. Trading with New Zealand and Australia is a beautiful idea. But the expense of transport and refrigeration would be horrific.

It took years for the EU to strike a trade deal with Canada, almost to be scuppered by the Walloon community of Belgium. Big investment banks are weighing up whether they’re moving to Dublin or Paris or Frankfort or all three because London will no longer be the euro clearing centre, a trade worth billions. Along with the bankers go the auxiliary staff and industries and businesses: the office managers, office workers, the taxi drivers, the servers and cooks in the local restaurants, the pubs, the cleaners – The People.

Even the Daily Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre can sense that Brexit may not happen. He has deployed his chief philosopher, Dominic Sandbrook, to lament the lack of patriotism among our elected officials. Dacre wants his readers to harken back to “olden days of yore” when “everyone” was patriotic. But to step out on that ledge of appealing to country and “duty” is to recall the words attributed to Samuel Johnson that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. He didn’t mean patriotism itself. But the invocation of it, when you’re in a tight corner, when it’s almost all over.

As Theresa May’s sun slowly sinks in the West, it’s easy to say that Jeremy Corbyn’s is on the rise. But The People did not mean Brexit to leave them poorer. And if you believe in polls, you can see that.

I’m assured by fervent Labour activists that Jeremy is playing “a long game” and that he “wants the Tories to hang themselves”. It’s true that Labour played a blinder at the snap election by taking Brexit off the table, putting social justice on it, and trading, too, on the fact that most people are sick and tired of austerity. Brexit, which could undo the legacy of Attlee and Bevan entirely, cannot be far from the leader’s mind.

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.



Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European



If Yes, Name to appear in The New European



Latest Articles

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We have a number of set phrases in English which we use in a rather automatic and semi-obligatory way at particular times and in specific social situations – such as ‘good morning’ and ‘good evening’, ‘happy birthday’ and ‘happy new year’.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Scotland's three biggest parties have all experienced sudden jolts in recent weeks. MAURICE SMITH reports on the tectonic plates shifting once again north of the border

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Lib Dems have stepped back from the Brexit cliff-edge.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A fitting 48 times the hapless foreign secretary, currently backtracking from his bungled attempt to topple Theresa May, outraged with his thoughtless comments and ill-judged actions

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Despite its devastating impact, Hurricane Irma passed with only a handful of deaths yet received wall-to-wall media coverage. On the other side of the world, floods have left a far higher death toll, yet reporting has been sparse. LIZ GERARD asks what is behind this apparent hypocrisy and what it says about us

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sir Vince Cable is to set out his bid to scupper Brexit by declaring “I am a proud saboteur”.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Imagine a town studded with watchtowers like San Gimignano in Tuscany, but set high on a plateau, 100 miles from the nearest centre of population.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A top Brexit Whitehall official has been moved out of the Department for Exiting the EU amid rumours of a rift with David Davis.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The venerable Dr Johnson described patriotism as “the last refuge of the scoundrel”.

Monday, September 18, 2017

It might not have grabbed the world's attention yet but, says AURORA TORRES, the over-exploitation of sand is a looming crisis for the globe, causing environmental destruction, putting communities at risk and sparking illegal black markets

Monday, September 18, 2017

The lights are going out in comments sections all over the world.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Home Secretary Amber Rudd today accused her Cabinet colleague Boris Johnson of "back-seat driving" as the row over his Brexit intervention deepened.

Monday, September 18, 2017

I couldn’t make it to the March For Europe last Saturday; perhaps this dereliction of duty means my Remoaner licence has now been revoked and I must now be demoted to Regrumbler or Rewhiner.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Angela Merkel may be on course for victory but her campaign for the German chancellorship is not the stately procession it might seem from afar. TONY PATERSON joins her on a decidedly bumpy election trail

Monday, September 18, 2017

Thousands of anti-Donald Trump posters inspired by Second World War public information designs have been plastered across Washington DC.

Friday, September 15, 2017

“Trees are sanctuaries,” wrote the German author and poet Hermann Hesse. “Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.”

Friday, September 15, 2017

BONNIE GREER on the conviction that you can have your cake and eat it

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A legitimisation of radical right-wing ideology is taking place around the world. The world was shocked by the events in Charlottesville, America, and by Donald Trump’s failure to condemn racist violence.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

RICHARD PORRITT with the week's big stories

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mancunian musician Mark Reeder arrived in Berlin in 1979 and never looked back.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Britain will "soon regret" leaving the EU, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has warned in his annual state of the union speech.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Right, so where are we now then?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are playing a very dangerous game of nuclear poker, argues Paul Connew. But does either leader have the cards that could avoid destruction?

Monday, September 11, 2017

When Muslim feminist SEYRAN ATES opened a liberal mosque in Berlin this summer she was met with a barrage of death threats and fatwas. But she says she is undeterred in her campaign to use enlightenment values to defeat extremism – in all forms

Monday, September 11, 2017

Many of the materials we use derive their names from the towns they were first made in. PETER TRUDGILL explores the stories behind some of the best-known

Monday, September 11, 2017

Theresa May’s insistence that she is sticking around as PM may have been met with scepticism and incredulity, but PR agent MARK BORKOWSKI argues her reboot may yet work

Monday, September 11, 2017

His stricken condition fuels macabre speculation, but Michael Schumacher’s real legacy is the remarkable run of Grand Prix dominance which began 25 years ago. ROB BURNETT reports

Friday, September 8, 2017

Writer, April 17, 1885 - September 7, 1962

Friday, September 8, 2017

For comedian MITCH BENN, Theresa May’s attempts to extend her political life put him in mind of his favourite film, Blade Runner. Here, he goes on the trail of Downing Street’s replicant

Sunday, September 10, 2017

An estimated 50,000 passionate Remainers marched on Parliament yesterday demanding the Government reverse its Brexit strategy.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tony Blair today made an explosive intervention in the Brexit debate, calling for tough new immigration rules which would allow Britain to stay in the EU.

Monday, September 11, 2017

British identity is fragmented like never before, with the rise of pop-up populism dividing people into “them” and “us”. Author PETER POMERANTSEV takes a deeply personal journey through Britain to find out what it means for the country

Friday, September 8, 2017

A refusal to confront its past leaves France facing an uncertain future, argues MARTIN EVANS

Friday, September 8, 2017

Al Jazeera may have its flaws, but its persecution is seriously bad news for the world, says PAUL KNOTT

Friday, September 8, 2017

If you’re looking for a phrase to describe the change in newspaper print circulations this year, it might well be “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”. The latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) demonstrate that only the Metro managed to increase its print circulation year-on-year, with every single other national title recording a fall.

Friday, September 8, 2017

It’s not just back to school for the nation’s children, this week, but also for politicians and British business.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Modern Germany has a very different political and media culture to our own, and some of that was on display in Sunday’s ‘TV-Duell’ between Chancellor Angela Merkel and her SDP challenger Martin Schulz.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

STEVE ANGLESEY picks out the worst Brexiteers of the week

Thursday, September 7, 2017

RICHARD PORRITT on the week's big stories

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Britain's chances of being ready to begin EU trade negotiations by the next round of trade talks in October are "in the neighbourhood of zero", former European Council president Herman van Rompuy warned today.

Podcast

Trending

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter