From 9th June, every company that re-locates to Poland, every piece of weak economic data will be on herby Jay Elwes / April 28, 2017 / Leave a comment
When I suggested last July that Theresa May would need a second popular vote before she could go ahead with Brexit, the idea was attacked in, among other places, the pages of the Sunday Times. For Eurosceptics, any suggestion that problems might lie ahead amounted to sneering. But now the PM has called a general election in order to give herself a stronger Brexit mandate. She will no doubt win. And yet her victory will not ease her Brexit problems. It will instead bring a deeper challenge.
It was inevitable that she would seek this second vote. Without it her authority rested on a mandate passed down to her by David Cameron—a welcome inheritance—but one that consisted of a General Election victory by a pro-EU member of the Notting Hill liberal elite. May’s own brand of conservatism is something very different and that disparity was always going to be problematic.
May has called a Brexit election. Whether her margin of victory is narrow or vast, 8th June will not bring her the calm political waters that her Eurosceptic supporters crave. Her majority—be it 50 or 70 or 200—will give her renewed clout in Westminster. But it will have another, quite different effect. It will mean that she has nowhere to hide. She will be fully and unequivocally responsible for everything that follows. She will not be able to deflect blame onto those who have failed to “come together,” in the name of Brexit. Pro-Brexit newspapers will no longer have any grounds for blaming the judiciary, or “saboteurs,” or anyone else for the inevitable difficulties and failures of the Brexit negotiations. No. There will only be one person standing in the spotlight. The PM’s General Election victory will put her there.
A new and altogether more intense form of pressure will characterise the next phase of May’s government. She has not prepared for this. Rather, she has raised expectations through repeated, bold statements of intent. Chief among these has been the nostrum that “Brexit means Brexit,” a phrase that infuriated her opponents but which caused a warm glow in the hearts of eurosceptics who instinctively grasped its meaning: no half measures—we are going all out. That sense of confidence and satisfaction was on…