Theresa May: ‘Brexit Means Brexit’ – OpEd


Following Boris Johnson’s decision to exit the contest to become Britain’s next prime minister, the front-runner is Home Secretary Theresa May.

May’s chief opponent, Michael Gove, when asked last month whether he was interested in being prime minister, said: “No, I’m not. There… I don’t want to do it and there are people who are far better equipped than me to do it.” In 2012, he said: “I could not be prime minister. I’m not equipped to be prime minister. I don’t want to be prime minister.”

Here are some clips from the launch of May’s Conservative leadership bid:

The principal role of whoever becomes Britain’s next prime minister will be negotiating with the EU.

The Guardian notes about May:

After 10 years she is now the most experienced interior minister in Europe and has proved highly influential in justice and home affairs policies. She has recently secured agreement for a new Europe-wide database logging passenger information for all flights in and out of Europe. Although a professed Eurosceptic it was little surprise when she announced she was backing the remain in Europe campaign. In an earlier life she was a Brussels lobbyist for the Association for Payment Clearing Services for six years and is very much at home trying to secure what she wants in Europe.

While argument among legal experts persists on whether Brexit must indeed move forward, May, although having campaigned against withdrawal, now insists there is no alternative.

In line with positioning herself as the candidate of stability, she has made it clear that it is the UK, not Brussels, which will determine the time to invoke Article 50 and that if she is prime minister, this will not happen before the end of the year.

Oxford University’s Professor Richard Ekins writes:

Parliament having decided to hold the referendum, and the public having participated fully in it, the result should be respected and not undone.

Political fairness and democratic principle require one to respect the outcome of the referendum even if one is persuaded that Brexit would be a very bad idea. One might think it wrong to hold the referendum, but it was held – and Parliament invited the people to decide this question. There was a lengthy, wide-ranging, high-powered campaign that culminated in high public turnout and a clear outcome. The remain camp had a fair hearing: it was led by the PM and most of cabinet, with the support of most MPs with much business and international support. In short, the important constitutional question of whether Britain should remain in the EU was fairly settled by public vote.

The proposal to ignore or undo the vote is unjust. It bears noting that the relatively powerless in our polity – the poor – overwhelmingly supported exit. Ignoring the referendum would be particularly unfair to them. It would not be consistent with treating them as free and equal persons entitled by the law and constitution of their land to a share in self-government, not least since the rationale for ignoring the process in which they participated has so often been framed in terms of outright contempt for them. Any failure to act on the decision made in the referendum that the UK should leave the EU would be a profound betrayal. It would be no mere failure to recognize the perspective of the dispossessed, but would be the betrayal of holding out to them, as to others, a question for decision and then ignoring their decision because one does not like it.

The fact that May sees no reason for there to be a general election until 2020, could provide the Labour Party with an opportunity to reconstruct itself rather than continue digging its own grave.

John Harris writes:

Labour is in the midst of a longstanding and possibly terminal malaise, and now finds itself facing two equally unviable options.

On one side is the current leader and a small band of leftist diehards, backed by an energetic, well-drilled movement but devoid of any coherent project and out of touch with the voters who have just defied the party in their droves. On the other is a counter-revolution led by MPs who mostly failed to see this crisis coming, have very few worthwhile ideas themselves, and are a big part of the reason the Brexit revolt happened in the first place. As the activist Neal Lawson says, the choice is essentially between different captains of the Titanic, and therefore is no choice at all.

As with the centre-left parties across Europe in the same predicament, Labour is a 20th-century party adrift in a new reality. Its social foundations – the unions, heavy industry, the nonconformist church, a deference to the big state that has long evaporated – are either in deep retreat or have vanished completely. Its name embodies an attachment to the supposed glories of work that no longer chimes with insecure employment and insurgent automation.

Its culture is still far too macho, and didactic; it has a lifelong aversion to analysis and ideas that has hobbled it throughout its existence, and now leaves it lacking any real sense of what is happening. I am a lifelong party member who was raised in a Labour family – my grandfather was a south Wales coal miner, my father a Labour activist – for whom the party was a kind of secular church. But if we do not confront the crisis now, then when? Look at any number of what we still laughably call “core” Labour areas, and you will find the same things: a vote share that has been steadily declining since 2001, an MP more often parachuted in from a different world, and voters who either vote for the party thanks to fading familial loyalties (“I vote Labour because my granddad did”) or have no idea what the party stands for.

Paul Woodward - War in Context

Paul Woodward describes himself by nature if not profession, as a bricoleur. A dictionary of obscure words defines a bricoleur as “someone who continually invents his own strategies for comprehending reality.” Woodward has at various times been an editor, designer, software knowledge architect, and Buddhist monk, while living in England, France, India, and for the last twenty years the United States. He currently lives frugally in the Southern Appalachians with his wife, Monica, two cats and a dog Woodward maintains the popular website/blog, War in Context (, which "from its inception, has been an effort to apply critical intelligence in an arena where political judgment has repeatedly been twisted by blind emotions. It presupposes that a world out of balance will inevitably be a world in conflict."

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