By Morak Babajide-Alabi
The gods of Great Britain are angry. And when the gods are angry, we know they are usually mean, sad, and unhappy. At this point, they would do anything and damn the consequences. This is the stage the gods are now. They have thrown caution into the winds. The result of this is that the gods have sent confusion into the camps of the United Kingdom’s political leaders.
Ever wondered why some of these politicians are stumbling blocks to the desire of the citizens to exit the European Union? It is simply because the gods have possessed them and they are doing their bidding. They have turned the British House of Parliament to a Tower of Babel. Although members speak the English Language; they seem not to understand each other. The gods have taken over and they are willing to destroy the essence of the union called Great Britain.
For Prime Minister Theresa May 2019 would go down in her life as a difficult and unpredictable one. This may be otherwise in her personal life, but stories from 2019 would definitely fill a large part of her memoir when she writes one in the future. Politically, it has been the worst year for her, as she suffered defeats in successions.
Not only has she been defeated severally she has also written herself into the history books. Earlier she had become the first Prime Minister in a democratic era defeated in any parliamentary vote with a heavy margin as much as 230 votes. The members of the parliament rejected the draft of her withdrawal agreement on how Britain should exit the European Union (EU).
A few minutes before the vote on January 15, May had made a rally speech to try to win the support of parliamentarians. She said: “This is the most significant vote that any of us will ever be part of in our political careers. After all the debate, all the disagreement, all the division, the time has now come for all of us in this house to make a decision. A decision that will define our country for decades to come. Together we can show the people we serve that their voices have been heard, that their trust was not misplaced.”
It turned out to be the most significant and damaging vote in her political career. The emotional appeal did not save her from the heavy defeat. But she took away from the defeat the reality of the opposition to her draft. It hit her like a clap of thunder. She did not tarry for long before she caught an “early morning coach” to Brussels. This was an attempt to convince the EU bureaucrats that getting her draft through the parliament would not be an easy task.
With a few tweaks but no concrete assurance from the EU leaders, especially on the problematic “Irish backstop” issue, May presented the draft to the parliament again. This “smart move” did not soften the stand of many of her Conservative Party members, talk less of the opposition parties.
It is difficult to sympathise with the Prime Minister, as she has been “stubborn” from the start of the BREXIT withdrawal negotiations. Her famous “it is my deal or no deal” has portrayed her as a leader unwilling to consider sincere options. Many analysts believe that the genesis of May’s problems was from this statement.
It is impossible to imagine what goes on in her mind. She is irrevocably committed to her plans despite struggling to get support where it matters. Last week, she not only lost the votes, but she also lost her voice. Watching her on television these past weeks has been very emotional for me. I see a woman who needs a bailout but cannot just get herself to ask for one. It is clear that May needs help, but it appears that she is the only one who can help herself. The strains are beginning to show on her, as she jostles the BREXIT problems.
No words are enough to describe the confusion and lack of planning towards the exit. The Prime Minister has lost the plot and she is trying every trick in her little book to manage the exit ship to “any” landing. In 2017 when she announced March 29, 2019, as the historic exit date, little did she envisage how torturous the BREXIT journey towards the date would be.
A few days to the “magical date” the citizens, parliamentarians and the other 27 EU countries are still unclear what is going to happen. As the date approaches, so also are the confusion and uncertainties mounting. The principal actors on both sides of the divides have been adamant that they have the best ideas on how to exit the EU. While none is yielding, the deadlock has not put the UK in any favourable position with the EU leaders. They look on in sympathy at a country where political divisions are about to jeopardise a once bright future.
No issue has divided the country as BREXIT. Some of the voters at the 23 June 2016 referendum are biting their fingernails and wishing they have another opportunity to do it all over again. With the shenanigans going on in the parliament and government, many of the voters have lost faith in the process. Many have publicly said they would prefer the status quo with the EU is maintained.
An opportunity of a second referendum has been thrown out by the parliament. Analysts argue that a second referendum would undermine faith in democratic processes, thereby allowing future manipulations. The Labour Party surprisingly directed its parliamentarians to abstain from the voting that would have given the members of the public another opportunity to vote on BREXIT.
Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who is accused of speaking from both sides of his mouth many times later made a confusing statement to the House of Commons. He said: “I reiterate our support on a public vote … not as a politically point-scoring, but as a realistic option to break the deadlock.” You would have expected Corbyn to go all out on winning the vote for a second referendum. But I guess the workings of the minds of these politicians defy logic.
The PM probably has slept easily in the past few days after parliamentarians voted for an extension of Article 50. But it is obvious that it won’t be for long as she would have to table this before the other 27 EU leaders. Although the UK lawmakers had agreed on the necessity for an extension to try to break the deadlock, the final decision lies with the other EU leaders.
May is desperate for her twice-rejected withdrawal agreement to be ratified so the set date can is honoured. She would, once again, bring it back to the parliament this week. Nothing has changed and nothing is expected to change in the coming days but there are indications that some Tory members who had initially opposed the agreement may support it this time around. In strange times such as this, anything can happen. Or how do we explain David Davis, the former BREXIT secretary, who resigned because he was against May’s plan turning around to vote for it last week?
Should her agreement be ratified, it would be a victory for May. But how big will this BREXIT victory be described in history books? Definitely, it would be a muted victory, celebrated behind closed doors at 10, Downing Street.
As written for the Diaspora Matter Column, Sunday Vanguard, March 17, 2019.