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Boris owes it all to Theresa May Without the 'bloody difficult woman', 2019 wouldn't have been such a walkover

Not such a Maybot. Credit: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty

Not such a Maybot. Credit: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty


May 24, 2021   5 mins

Whisper it gently, but there’s a mysterious woman in Boris Johnson’s life. Someone very special to him. Though she gets none of the credit, she’s the secret of his success, so it’s time she emerged from the shadows and received the recognition she deserves. Step forward… Theresa May.

Exactly two years ago, our second female Prime Minister was bowing out. After a torrid time in office it was finally over, and it ended with characteristic grace. In her resignation statement, she blamed no one for her fall, expressing only gratitude for the chance she’d had to serve the country she loved.

Her critics were not so generous. Ranked against other Prime Ministers (for instance here, here and here) she fares poorly. In particular, she suffers by comparison to her successor. He delivered Brexit; she didn’t. He won a majority; she lost one. But that’s not the whole story. Two years on from the end of her premiership, we need to tell the truth: which is that Boris owes it all to Theresa.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a successful PM is found to be in debt to a predecessor. Winston Churchill, for instance, owed a great deal to the much-maligned Neville Chamberlain. The reason why Britain was able to hold out against Hitler was that, before the war, Chamberlain had rearmed the country. In particular, he built up the fighter capacity of the RAF, which proved so crucial in the Battle of Britain.

As for Chamberlain’s infamous failures, these too were foundational to Churchill’s success. It’s unlikely that the great man would have become Prime Minister had Chamberlain not exhausted the credibility of appeasement. Indeed she did more than Chamberlain to ensure ultimate triumph of her successor, and looking beyond the obvious low points of her premiership a very different picture emerges. Indeed, she provided the key ingredients for the victories that followed.

Her heroic story begins in the summer of 2016, when she saved Boris’s bacon.

On the morning of the referendum result, David Cameron resigned. The Tories needed a new leader and the country a new PM. This was meant to be Mr Brexit himself, but for reasons still to be adequately explained, things went sideways. On 30 June, Boris withdrew from the leadership race, deserted by his closest allies.

Then, in rapid succession, all the other leadership campaigns imploded too, the last being the unlikely Andrea Leadsom who had inspired a march so cringeworthy it has been repressed in the collective subconscious.

All of them, that is, except for one.

What would have happened if Theresa May hadn’t been willing to serve? Who would have become Prime Minister then? An unpopular Remainer like George Osborne? A minor Brexiteer like Leadsom? Either way, it’s hard to imagine Brexit surviving.

Brexit was in peril from the moment the referendum result came through. Indeed, the whole country was. The stock market was tumbling, the Government was in chaos, the Remainers were revolting. Anything could have happened in those dangerous days — a run on the pound, a sovereign debt crisis, civil unrest, a Tory schism, an emergency government.

Do you think that Boris Johnson — the guy who crashed the car and fled the scene — would have been forgiven if those things had happened?

But they didn’t. Instead, what we got was Mrs May — dutiful, dependable and reassuringly dull. It was her dullness, her lack of general warmth and charisma, that doomed her premiership, a job she clearly didn’t enjoy one bit and during which she always gave the impression she’d rather be back in Maidenhead helping constituents with potholes and boundary disputes. But at the time it was those vital qualities that were required to guide the country through this most unnerving transition.

He owes her everything for that alone, but it’s not all she’s done to deserve his gratitude.

There are those see Theresa May’s premiership as an ill-considered paradox: the Remainer PM who thought she could deliver Brexit. But it’s not as if she improperly denied the job to a Leaver. They disqualified themselves. Moreover, the Leave campaign, having won the referendum, left no instructions as to what to do next. So guess who had to work that one out?

It is said that the early decisions that May took on Brexit were fundamental errors. In fact, the opposite is true. She made the right calls at the right time and if she hadn’t Brexit would have been doomed.

For instance, imagine if she hadn’t triggered Article 50 when she did? Delay would have done nothing to help her win agreement for her proposed deal — but the increasingly obstructive House of Commons would have had the ultimate means of blocking Brexit.

And what if she hadn’t drawn her red lines — in particular those regarding British control over British borders? If Brexit had happened at all, it wouldn’t have been the Brexit that Britain had voted for. It would have been a Brexit decided in Whitehall, and would almost certainly have left the issue of Europe as an ongoing open wound.

Yes, it was Boris who finally got Brexit done — but it’s because of Theresa May that Brexit wasn’t done in.

Now, let’s address her other big mistake that wasn’t actually a mistake — the 2017 election. It’s a decision that’s been condemned as reckless, unnecessary, and something she was “talked into” by her closest advisor, Nick Timothy. But it wasn’t just Timothy; lots of people urged her to do it, including some who later became her harshest critics.

In any case, right up until the campaign itself, she had the right strategy and the right message.

May was the first Conservative leader to realise that a realignment of voter loyalties was underway. Thanks to Timothy, she understood what David Cameron didn’t, which is that the key to Tory victory is held by culturally conservative voters in the North, not by liberals like him in the South. It was that strategy that would ultimately prove successful and led, not just to a Tory election victory in 2019, but possibly years of Tory rule.

From her first day as Prime Minister, she appealed over the heads of the establishment to people who had more to worry about than politics:  “I know you’re working around the clock,” she said, “I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.”

She promised to “make Britain a country that works for everyone” and Britain approved. We didn’t just have the polls to prove it — but some actual elections. Don’t forget that, in 2017, local elections took place a month before the general election, and the results were spectacular — a net gain of 563 councillors plus the election of Tory mayors on Teesside and the West Midlands.

And then the Conservative campaign threw it all away. They swapped a change message that they knew was working for the endlessly repeated “strong and stable” — in other words, a no change message. They also rammed the point home by coming out for fox hunting. Talk about “same old Tories” (which, indeed, everybody did).

Thus defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory. Yet all was not lost. The architects of the 2019 campaign clearly understood just how close Theresa May had come to taking the Red Wall. It was she, and not Boris, who made the first attempt. All that was required was to repeat her strategy, minus the self-sabotage. She had laid the groundwork and shown the way to a winning strategy – even if, admittedly, by showing how not to do it.

Should she have resigned when she lost her majority? Perhaps, but in 2017, there was no one ready to take over. And so she continued — condemned to clear up her own mess as well as other people’s. It was unrewarding, and each time she took her deal to the Commons, they voted it down. Lesser people would have packed it all in to take a well-paid job (or six), or sit in their luxury sheds, and the country would have suffered – yet those months of humiliation still served a purpose.

It provided enough time for three crucial developments: for the Remain establishment to overplay their hand; for Keir Starmer to swing Labour behind his disastrous anti-Brexit policy; and for Boris to re-establish himself as Tory-leader-in-waiting. And thus the pieces fell into place for the decisive events of 2019, and for Boris to reap the rewards.

Today, Theresa May continues to dutily serve her country from the backbenches. No life as a lobbyist for her. But I wonder if, at the next reshuffle, the Boris Johnson might not give her a job. After all, she pretty much gave him his.


Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.

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Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago

A very skilful attempt at a whitewash, but I don’t believe it.
The suspicious events surrounding Mrs May’s coronation in July 2016 all but conclusively point to its having been a coup d’Ă©tat deliberately created by the Remainer majority of Tory MPs with help from the corporate media and the big guns behind the scenes.
Career-long in politics, Treason May’s schtick had been to stand on a platform, doughtily announce what the public wanted to hear, then go back to the office and do the opposite; or do nothing. This was her form with the Home Office, the Border Agency and the Police. She denounced the Police at one of their Federation Conferences, went back to the office; and made no signficant changes to police tactics. She talked tough on Immigration – and its numbers soared upwards under her watch.
She was a seasoned practitioner of this art of lying, baiting-and-switching, and general dishonesty. Hence her appointment as PM. 
She was given the job of subverting the result of the Referendum and she did her best to carry it out. But she went too far, over-egged the pudding, granted the EU SO MUCH of concessions and grovelling conditions that even hardline Remainer opinion in Parliament sprang back from her (absurdly named) ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ in dismay and failed to vote for it. Nevertheless, everything she had done gummed up the works for any full proper healthy Brexit outcome.
(Martin Howe QC studied her proposed ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ and remarked ‘This is not a bad deal. It is atrocious’; and he could not understand why she had given the EU things they had not even asked for.) 
If my account of what happened is wrong, then please explain the following Oddities.-
[1] The morrow of our Referendum result, David Cameron did two honourable things. He resigned (in principle) as Prime Minister but offered to carry on in that role, as caretaker, till the party conference in October 2016, so that the Conservatives could have a proper leadership election and find out their next direction of travel maturely plus their best hope replacement for him.
This offer was IGNORED, brushed aside, unmentioned on all hands. WHY?
(My suggestion for an answer: – Because Theresa would never have survived the scrutiny of a leadership election and the Tory majority in Parliament wanted to catapult their Remainer sleeper into the top post before any real Leaver could possibly take it from her.)
[2] Michael Gove is notoriously the most courteous member of Parliament. People can stand and shriek abuse at him and he still replies politely. What was such a man doing stabbing Boris Johnson in the back before Bojo had even formally declared an interest as a candidate for party leader?!
[3] Andrea Leadsom was wholly inadequate for the role of party leader and PM; but the way she was hounded out of the picture in nothing flat by the mainstream media THE INSTANT she made one slip of a mistake (about herself, unlike T May, not being childless) was so swift and drastic as to be suspect.
[4] Leave having won the Referendum, where was any good faith at all in the Tories appointing a Remainer to conduct the UK’s departure from the European Union?
[5] Why did no credible member of the hardline Eurosceptics in the party throw his or her hat into the ring?
Let us not give credit where it is not due.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Scott
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Perfect summary. Her appointment was a stitch up to block Brexit and incompetence and arrogance were the only reasons it failed. Thank god they chose May, a more competent agent may have succeeded.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Totally agree with you.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

I always wondered if she is GCHQ because she was terrible as a Home Secretary and even worse as a PM , suddenly shouting out ‘Brexit means Brexit’ like a parrot.However she did delay things nicely ( and cost the country billions ) just to cover Trump’s presidency and prevent Britain getting a ‘deal’-which is probably what the system wanted.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Utterly absurd!
Remainers made Gove stab Boris?

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Gove is an erratic creature (I am not sure that he knows what he wants half the time) but also ambitious.
Conceivably the Tory bigwigs got at him and told him ‘Now is the time to make your play against Boris and we’ll back YOU’; and then of course they didn’t. Their objective would be to eliminate the popular Boris from the options for the party faithful in the country, in case it really did come down to a leadership election.
I don’t say this is what happened. I don’t know what happened in this particular instance. But surely Gove’s behaviour, for a courteous man, was bizarre in the extreme.
What would we think of someone who ran round a town shrieking ‘Mrs Higginbottom must NOT be appointed Geography teacher at the Community School’, when that lady had not yet even formally put in an application for the post?
Bad-mannered would be the least of it.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

So basically you have no idea what happened!
You ignore (because you don’t like it) endless news reports about Gove stabbing Boris in the back.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I don’t understand your response here.
My posts both insisted that Gove stabbed Boris in the back.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

We know why Gove “did” Bojo. He wanted power. is that simple.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I think it was Mrs Gove who wanted it, frankly.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

I think Gove has a bad case of Aspergers.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Not to mention: Remainers prevented a “credible member [who?] of the hardline Eurosceptics” from throwing their hat into the ring?

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Why would that be unthinkable, unimaginable?
The trouble with ALL Tory MPs is that they always put party – i.e their own careers – above all other considerations.
If the Eurosceptic Spartans were clearly shown – hints, nudges, frowns – that they would (a) have a very hard time of it in future (for instance, getting selected for a constituency, even their own current seat) and (b) would have no chance of election as leader, and a great wave of hostility rolled over them in the Commons bars and tea-rooms, they might well desist from becoming candidates in such a contest.
One of them OUGHT to have insisted on being a candidate, so that a proper election campaign followed in which much was exposed. But their careers, and their precious parliamentary seats always take paramount priority.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Why would that be unthinkable, unimaginable?

Your whole comment is basically that. You can not prove any of your theories, you ignore the endless news reporting (by different sources) about the period of time (because you don’t like them) and sprout absurd theories.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No. Gove’s behaviour in the immediate wake of the Referendum result – wholly uncharacteristic of his normal punctilious good manners – chimed with the Tories’ absurd rush to make sure that Treason May was the only candidate with a chance and get every other possibility out of the race.
The Big Question which those persons are left with on their hands, who disagree with my reading of events is this. – Why did the Tories not do the only sane normative reasonable thing, in the wake of June 23, 2016, and have a leadership election PREFACED BY A PROPER LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN, in which very different candidates put forth their views and intentions (if elected) and the whole matter of our departure from the EU was subject to debate: both internal within the party, and national?
What was the commanding reason for super-urgent ultra-haste at that point? David Cameron had offered to stay on for the next three and half months till the party conference in October. The pound had not collapsed, we weren’t facing a mass invasion of locusts. Mars had not attacked.
It is not as if Mrs May, having been made PM, then took us out of the EU in one sudden swoop during that same month of July 2016 in which she attained the premiership. She much more than took her time to get her operation in gear over the next 20 months.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Because Andrea quit and May was the only one left standing. It wasn’t a conspiracy (no matter how hard you try to spin one) it was just a farce.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Only If you are Dim,… Theresa May’s ”Surrender treaty” Was designed to Put spokes into Northern Ireland’s 1922 …Border,Cause maximum problems where None had existed….&sell Fishermen down the river or Celtic Sea,WTO ..the Brexit party stand down,allowed remain Civile Serpents to try to scupper Brexit, hasn’t Worked….WTO is the Only path to stopping EU interference..

Last edited 2 years ago by Robin Lambert
Jon Read
Jon Read
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

I have long toyed with the idea that in the days following 23 June 2016 some rather underhand forms of dialogue were happening between Brussels and the UK establishment.
Broadly, though it is more finite than this, get a Remainer in as PM as swiftly as poss, play the ‘we are leaving’ card to appease any form of discontent from the 51.8%, trigger Article 50 for the same reason, then call an election on the grounds that an increased majority will assist the country in its negotiations both with EU and its own MPs.
But here’s the bit that stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Throw an election. That was part of the instruction from Brussels. And throw it she [they] did. A campaign where she barely put her head above the parapet. A campaign focussing on dementia tax. A campaign where they failed to explain that Corbyn’s plans were (in a pre Coivd era), economically unpalatable.They went along with it because there was little to no chance of Labour getting a majority esp with established Tory heartlands and SNP control in Scotland. But she, crucially and destructively (or so it seemed) lost a majority.
After that, it nearly all fell into place. Meaningful Votes x4, strangled parliament and a wet deal. Remain actually had their chance and it was at this point that they blew it. It gave those (whether they had any faith in UK outside the EU or not) to regroup. Ole DomCum could see a chism so wide he could drive a bus through it, all it needed was a slogan on it without numbers.
Little has been made of TMs immediate appointment of BJ as Foreign Secretary. I guessed she thought ‘it was to give him as much rope to hang himself with’. In hindsight, save for a few gaffs, he held the line and departed when he could smell the chance. The rest is history.

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Fully agree and especially with the observation made by another contributor that a more competent individual might have stymied attempts to leave the EU. May’s obfuscation encouraged the EU to behave intransigently, with the resulting uncertainty impacting upon both trade and our standing in the world. At one time I thought Major narrowly had it over Anthony Eden in the race to be Britain’s worst ever PM, but now one will ever get near to beating Mrs May.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baseley

As Did Tory,Labour,Lib-dim ,SNP MPs, former MEPs visiting Brussels to tell them to Scupper Any uk freedom…

Last edited 2 years ago by Robin Lambert
Stephen Bracken
Stephen Bracken
2 years ago

I think this article (as do many others) glosses over a factor in the 2017 election.
If memory serves correctly, two weeks before the election, with polls pretty much predicting the same results as the 2019 outcome, Theresa May decided it was time for an “adult conversation” about long term care for the elderly.
It was hinted that this would involve taking an elderly persons house in exchange for a council run home or taxing people as they got older to pay for this care (whether they needed it or not).
To me (maybe it’s my age) this is how she threw away that election – alienate every single voter over the age of 50 in one press release.
This decision alone ranks her as the most incompetent Conservative leader since Edward Heath and one of the few who could make Jeremy Corbyn look electable.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago

Yes, and this points to the greatest falling of that campaign — complacency. They thought they had it so locked down that they could afford to include unpopular policies in the manifesto. A gamble, predicated on the general (and understandable, to be fair) feeling that Corbyn was a joke candidate.

Stephen Bracken
Stephen Bracken
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

I think that’s a fair comment. It came across as arrogant and put off a lot of voters. Most of her problems stemmed from this point onwards.
A lot of Guardian articles imply that Jeremy Corbyn did well in that election. I would argue he did roughly the same as the 2019 election, but Theresa May performed very badly in 2017.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
2 years ago

That is however the only possible solution to the care problem. Why should I get to leave the cash tied up in my house to my grandchildren, while some poor nurse or bus driver pays extra tax to support me in a retirement home? Providing for one’s own old age is one’s own duty first and foremost. Care provision is there for those worst off – as with most aspects of the welfare state. And frankly given the state of most homes and most of the residents in them, I am praying the Grim Reaper takes me before I ever need it. Extending life expectancy is not a great idea, if you are simply kept animated by a cocktail of drugs while your mind and body rot away.

Leon Wivlow
Leon Wivlow
2 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

There was some kind of leader’s question session before the 2017 election and Theresa May was asked (by a disabled gentleman) why he should work hard all his life to pay for his care in his old age when the guy next door didn’t bother working but would still receive the same care in old age without ever having contributed? She had no answer.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

A very interesting and thoughful perspective. I would agree regarding the 2017 election, which they managed to self-sabotage. Peter doesn’t mention the massive by-election election victory the Tories had in Cumbria, presumably on the night of the local elections, in which the Tories took a seat that had been Labour since it was created. I am not so convinced of the analysis of the way in which she handled the Brexit negotiations, although it should never be forgotten that she was massively hindered by a traitorous civil service, parliament and Lords etc.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

she was massively hindered by a traitorous civil service, parliament and Lords etc.

And where was the Brexit plan?
I love your mental gymnastics!
ï»ż

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

She wasn’t hindered by them, she was on the same page. She completely misunderstood Brexit and Leave voters. She thought they were all closet racists and xenophobes and, as long as she talked tough on immigration, she could stitch up whatever she liked in every other area.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
2 years ago

Britain has had two female PMs.

One incredibly successful, the other one was May…..

Peter Boreham
Peter Boreham
2 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

One might even conclude from this VERY limited sample that women are systematically no better or worse at it than men…

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
2 years ago
Reply to  James Rowlands

..But the “incredibly successful” one was forced out of office by her own party!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Hopwood

That’s the wonderful ‘Party System’ we have, all part of the equally farcical Parliamentary Democracy that we worship.

Fortunately the prime ‘assassins’ went unrewarded, and the compromise candidate, the perfectly lovely, but utterly useless John Major* got the job.

(* Theresa May in drag, so to speak.)

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

For most of us non-fanatics, non-activists, non-tribal voters, it’s always been a matter of choosing “least-worst” option on the ballot paper.

Peter Boreham
Peter Boreham
2 years ago

Something the committed never understood. The Corbyn fanatics seemed genuinely bemused that he failed that test. Twice.

JP Edwards
JP Edwards
2 years ago

“The architects of the 2019 campaign clearly understood just how close Theresa May had come to taking the Red Wall. It was she, and not Boris, who made the first attempt.”

Have to say, this is a complete crock.

There is no doubt, Nigel Farage first with Ukip in 2014 and then with a nascent Brexit Party in 2019 were the first party to breach the Red Wall in a national vote – the European Elections.

Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party toured those staunch Labour heartlands and gently persuaded them to lend them their vote. That is what made it possible for the Red Wall to do it a second time for Boris in the GE. Farage and the Brexit Party were the gateway not Theresa May!

Remember this, in the European elections in 2019 the Conservatives were dead in the water – they secured a pitiful 9% of the vote. However, the newly formed Brexit Party won the national vote with 32%.  Immediately following that result the Tories saw the light that Nigel Farage was holding – they got rid of May, voted Boris as leader and adopted the Brexit Party policy of delivering a meaningful Brexit. They went on to win a huge 80 seat majority; JOB DONE THANK YOU NIGEL FARAGE AND THE Brexit Party.

What Theresa May did was collude with a dishonest anti-democratic Remainer HOC and HOL to try and deliver an empty Brexit or no Brexit at all.

The truth is Boris and Cummings owe Nigel Farage & the BP a huge debt of gratitude (which will never be acknowledged) for the full extent of their 2019 GE win. The Brexit Party showed them what to do and how to do it.

Last edited 2 years ago by JP Edwards
G Harris
G Harris
2 years ago
Reply to  JP Edwards

Yep. Nailed it there.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  JP Edwards

Unfortunately Remainers never die,A lot Labour or Tory End up as ”Paid Mayors” or in GLA all expensive talking shops &unnecessary, my idea of Leaving EU,was less paid politicians,NOT more….Lords,BBC next for Autopsies?…&History

Jon Read
Jon Read
2 years ago
Reply to  JP Edwards

Nail. Hammer. Head.
They were also pragmatic enough to withdraw candidates with three weeks to go in the name of achieving the end goal.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Read
Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
2 years ago

This reminds of an old Indian story about a king sitting on judgement between two contestants in a music competition. He hears the first one and promptly gives the award to the second. When people say that the king hadn’t even heard the second contestant, the king responds: he couldn’t be worse.
So with Boris and Teresa.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
2 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Very good.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
2 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

I haven’t heard that before, but will use it in future. Thank you.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
2 years ago

When the Brexit result came through the Remainers were completely shell shocked. It was May’s years of dither and delay that let them regroup and form a Fifth Column doing the will of Brussels. We still have much of the damage of those years, including the NI Protocol. Boris may have reason to be grateful to her but the nation certainly does not.

G Harris
G Harris
2 years ago

With the greatest of respect to the author here, Johnson’s debt to Theresa May amounts to her being so bad that she even managed to make his less than stellar efforts on negotiating Brexit look good.

So not saying much really.

There’s little doubt that post referendum Remainers consistently overplayed their hand, ideally hopefully to overturn the 2016 result and it appeared, in the end, that they would settle for nothing less than Brexit In Name Only, or BRINO as it was known.

Thankfully, this hubris was their undoing.

Not only did she roll over and immediately accept the EU’S two stage negotiation which required the UK to first agree to a back of a beer mat hefty divorce bill and the cutting adrift of NI before the UK could progress to the EU’S next stage involving actual trade, it was she, as PM, who consistently gave an antidemocratic Parliament headed by a narcissistic, bent Speaker the repeated opportunity to vote for BRINO in varying forms in continuing and flagrant disregard for the answer delivered by the UK electorate to the necessarily binary 2016 EU Referendum question,

‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’

This was a tortuous time and I would argue that the integrity of UK democracy was genuinely under threat during this period, no thanks to her and other parliamentarians’ reckless disregard for the outcome of that 2016 vote.

Now you might argue that she was a master of brinkmanship and knew what she was doing all along, but that would require both ‘orbs’ of steel and of the crystal variety, neither of which, I believe, Theresa May has ever been possessed of.

Last edited 2 years ago by G Harris
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

I’m not sure it’s intellectually coherent to argue that Boris should be grateful to his predecessor for making so many helpful errors. She didn’t make them to help him; she didn’t take accept short-term hits that would pay off in the longer term; she made them because of ineptitude.
This was not a situation like Third Alamein, where Auchinleck halted Rommel at the first two, and started rebuilding the forces and the plan for the counter-attack, but too slowly for Churchill. He was then replaced by Montgomery, who continued doing the same thing at the same pace, delivered a victory (just), gave his predecessors no credit, and claimed it all for himself. In that situation, Montgomery owed the victory to Auchinleck’s work and planning, not to his blunders and ineptitude (there weren’t any).
The situation was more like Malta in 1942, which was being bombed with impunity until Keith Park arrived. The incumbent director of air defences was running it on Leigh Mallory’s “Big Wing” principle, where on an air warning, all the fighters would fly away from Malta to make a Big Wing and would then fly back north to intercept en masse, by which time the air raid was over. Park scrapped all this, sent individual squadrons to intercept the raiders 50 miles out to sea, and stopped the bombing in two weeks.
Park and Boris both look good compared to their predecessors, Montgomery indifferent, because in the various case the predecessor was either hopeless or better. The decision to be hopeless wasn’t made to assist the successor.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

A fine analogy, just what we need on what we used to call Empire Day.

Montgomery wasn’t even the first choice as I recall.
The Luftwaffe got him, but as one might expect I cannot remember his name.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

William ‘Strafer’ Gott. Yes, his plane was shot down.
Alamein was won by Auchinleck and Dorman-Smith.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

What a ‘great’ name!
How could I have forgotten that!

Many thanks.

Hugh Jarse
Hugh Jarse
2 years ago

Gort.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
2 years ago

Surely Boris owes it all to FARAGE not May – Cameron only promised the Referendum to see off Farage and then only held it because he was absolutely certain he would win it – Boris jumped on the Brexit Bandwagon as a long shot at becoming PM – Project Fear backfired big time, wonderfully illustrated by Obama’s rehearsed ‘back of the queue’ and the Leave Win equally wonderfully immortalised by Dominic Frisby’s “17 million ‘F…k Offs” – Back stabber extraordinaire Gove stopped Boris – But Farage’s humiliation of May in the EU and local elections elevated Boris’ quest and he was PM – Farage then gifted him the 80 seat majority by withdrawing his troops at the GE and Brexit actually happened – When this generation of Media Remainers are gone so many movies will be made of Brexit – It has everything, cliff hangers, backstabbers, ironies and a central Hero underdog figure amongst the huge characters on both sides but best of all the people defeating their imperious, entitled, elite overlords – Actors will love to be in it and directors will love to direct it, surely it will take on Shakespearian dimensions? – (Characters like the Machiavellian May and her apparatchik Olly Robbins who did everything to effectively remain under Brussels Boot, rejecting Tusk’s early offer of a Canada type trade deal, delaying article 50 etc. All enough to have her so often deliberately mistyped as ‘Treason May’ and so well illustrated by her defeat in the commons massively greater than any government in history.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay Gatward
John Lewis
John Lewis
2 years ago

The glorious irony is that Boris could never have been in a position to ensure Brexit had it not been for the Wil E Coyote-like ineptitude of this dishonest and thoroughly unlikeable woman.

That is her legacy although the six-figure speaking fees will no doubt compensate.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  John Lewis

A Boris fan who complains about dishonesty. Remarkable.

John Lewis
John Lewis
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Fair point but we’re talking about May here.

P.s. yes I used to be a Boris fan. Now I’m not.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Lewis
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
2 years ago
Reply to  John Lewis

That’s a perfect image of her: strapping on ACME jet boots and smacking into the side of a cliff, because she missed the tunnel.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

It always seemed to me May was trying to deliver Brexit at the same time as essentially remaining within the EU, ie, she was delusional.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I think you give her too much credit… She was PRETENDING to deliver Brexit while essentially remaining in the EU. If the EU and their Remainer allies in the UK hadn’t overplayed their hand so badly and been determined to administer a punishment beating to prevent other rebellious colonies from getting the same idea, she may well have succeeded.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Perhaps you’re right, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, but her delusional tendency was also apparent in her feminism coupled with her enthusiastic support of trans ideology, both false and irreconcilable.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

In those halcyon days of Merry England, she would have suffered the Traitor’s Death as she so richly deserved.

Either burning alive or beheading. Both off course in public to satisfy the savage instinct of the mob.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
2 years ago

She tried to keep us tied into the EU for the rest of time.
Useless pm and very nearly betrayed us but her own incompetence mucked it up

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

UK is still tied to Paying for EU MEPs pensions ..& Surrendering 1964 Fishing Zone around UK, not negoiable but thereasonous may did..

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
2 years ago

The headline is perfectly correct. It was only May’s utter incompetence and her dishonest managing of Brexit that enabled Johnson to portray himself as a man of Churchillian stature.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago

No clearer case of a pygmy posing as a giant?

dean edge
dean edge
2 years ago

I think the point could have been better made if the arguments were not all contorted into aiding the unsustainable narrative that Theresa May fits into the vaguely sexist stereotype of the dogged dependable rather dull woman doing her best to cope with crises not of her making.
The neotiations with Brussells and “our EU partners” were mishandled by a lack of commitment, a failure to react aggresively to hostile tactics, and a disastrous mixture of micro-management alternating with delegation to incompetent apparachtics, whom one always felt were there to be blamed. Likewise the 2017 GE debacle was not caused by the timing but by the absurd policies and their terrible presentation. I feel that sympathy for Mrs May that one always feels for people struggling to perform a role for which they lack the necessary competences, but have gained by accident and/or ambition.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
2 years ago
Reply to  dean edge

Exactly – Mrs May was a competent Home Secretary but promoted too far – a perfect example of the “Peter Principle”.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Gourley

She was a terrible home secretary, utterly failed to deliver on her immigration commitment.

David Foot
David Foot
2 years ago

It is all coming back to me now.
Cameron promised an EU referendum (I would say this is why the surprise of Cameron’s election victory came about) and the UK said YES we want to leave, so Cameron with his 16 majority put a spanner in the works and resigned instead of taking us out of the EU, the first deliberate Remainer delay.
Then came the coronation of May because of a cheating exercise .. poor woman with no offspring .. her rival had said that she had her children’s future to think of.. so that broke May’s heart poor woman That is how the Remainer coronation came about, the favourite Leave Candidate was ditched.
Then even May was on to “Brexit means Brexit” and was riding high in the polls even though all was in the air and she went for an election to increase her majority of 16, which she should have won, except that she was such a bad politician, so wooden and rigid and died on a question about social care.. “nothing has changed” when she contradicted herself, from then on she was toast. It wasn’t clear what “type” of Brexit we would have got with May either, more of a half remain Brexit perhaps..
Loads lost their seats which Cameron had won for them (with his promise which wasn’t being acted on) and it turned out to be a bad idea, this is the bit where Boris made a difference between 2017 and 2019 .. Its Brexit stupid! So he kept it simple “get Brexit done”.
The electorate were wetting themselves in exasperation of May not wanting to resign, then, when Boris did come, Corbyn, leader of the Her Majesty’s “loyal?” Opposition was writing the PM’s letters and the EU was reading letters not signed by the PM but not the letters which he signed! It was a minority Government with a messed up constitution by Cameron and Clegg.
This is what Nick Clegg and Cameron had managed to generate, one of the worst parliaments in history, when they undermined the powers of the Queen (Royal Prerogative), in reality for a lot of reasons we desperately need to increase the powers of the Queen, the more power to the House of Commons, the more common we become as we have seen for a century and as we saw after 2017.
It was a Remain Parliament representing a Leave Country, with the Parliament and the Judiciary twisting and turning to undermine the wishes of the electorate, so in the end when this parody of democracy which had been reached by undermining the powers of the Queen with the Judiciary piling in to make Remain politics and to force the Queen to turn back/ undo what She had signed that was it, as soon as one of the most revolting house of commons ever to be elected history was gone which saw first May and then Boris in a minority government voted itself out of existence and for an election in 2019, the electorate couldn’t wait to get rid of that parliament, said never again and gave Boris the tools to do the job which thanks to Labour hadn’t been done in four years.
if you say May and Corbyn were responsible for the victory of Boris, I agree, it was a reaction of total aversion and disgust towards a parliament which made us a world wide joke
The more power to the House of Commons the more common we become. If the House of Commons loved the Country it would admit to the damage which it has done and it would increase the Royal Prerogative significantly in every respect, after all our greatness is not owed to the House of Commons, to the contrary, our nation’s tank was filled by the Monarchs in Privy Council, and our nation’s tank has all but left empty by the House of Commons which is only good at blowing its own trumpet.

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
2 years ago

I think you said it right near the top she is akin to chamberlain. Although actually I think its more like she ensured remain interests were not too badly affected and that Boris was part of that strategy I have little doubt. Its all smoke and mirrors frankly and I very much doubt the brexit deal will be looked back on as good for the vast majority of the british people in years to come.
Boris owes far more to cummings frankly.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Chamberlain was trying to the right thing. May was trying to sabotage Brexit. There’s just no comparison.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

Sorry, I’m totally unconvinced by this. True, the Leaver candidates for leadership foolishly tripped over each other, so we’ll never know how it might have gone had one of them become PM, but Mrs May made fundamental and very grave errors, from which many of our problems stemmed, and will do continue to do so for many years to come.
The first was to concede ‘sequencing’. Article 50 surely treats withdrawal as simultaneous with trade, and it would indeed be illogical not to do so. It’s even covered in a single sentence.
The second was then to make major concessions on money and the Irish border; for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
There were several other examples of her atrocious conduct. I’m appalled that she still sits in the Commons, doing her best when opportunity allows to hinder Brexit further.

Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton
2 years ago

“….and it ended with characteristic grace.” To coin a phrase, I think you must be joking. She was as graciuos as she was competent, which is to say, not at all.

mark taha
mark taha
2 years ago

John Major in drag!

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

I think there may be a couple of flaws in that analysis. For a start Churchill spent most of the thirties warning about the threat posed by a resurgent Germany, and banged on about the need for Britain to re-arm to anyone who would listen – which wasn’t very many people for an excruciatingly long time. If he had been listened to earlier there would probably have been no Dunkirk, and no routing of the British forces in the Pacific.
Apart from that, what holed Theresa’s campaign below the waterline was the Dementia Tax. She could hardly have done her campaign more damage if she had toured the Home Counties and other bastions of so-called Middle England in a van and used a loudhailer to demand parents sacrifice their first born children to the international slave trade in order to get the cash to balance the books.
The lesser charge of having the wrong message in ‘strong and stable’, because that meant ‘no change’, entirely misses the crux of what went wrong there. What went wrong was the endless repetition of the phrase ‘strong and stable’. She kept it up even when it became the nation’s running gag. She persisted n the face of total ridicule. She used ‘strong and stable’ to finish off what was left of her campaign after the dementia tax had done its damage.

Johnson’s marvellous majority is the majority any remotely credible Tory leader would have got with Corbyn as the opponent.

All people needed was a potential PM that would not be a disaster. Which only goes to show, because whatever you say about Theresa, she would not have presided over the fiasco of the past year in the haphazard, appalling, and absolutely mental way Johnson has.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

By the way, it is not ‘awaiting for approval’, it is ‘awaiting approval’.
Or ‘waiting for approval’. Just not ‘awaiting for approval’.
Clean it up please, even if you find this comment insufferable. It undermines your credibility.

G Harris
G Harris
2 years ago

I seem to be having the Devil’s own job getting my comment past the moderator on here at the moment.

I’ve used the surname of an ex-shadow chancellor Ed Thingymabobs in a sentence and this seems to be the sticking point.

Any creative suggestions?

Last edited 2 years ago by G Harris
Mark H
Mark H
2 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Bowdlerize it to Ed Bowls? Phoneticize to Bawls?

G Harris
G Harris
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

Thanks for the advice.

Took the ‘orbs’ route in the end and that seemed to do the job.

Bonkers really.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago

At least Theresa May worked hard and surrounded herself with equals, if not superiors, the duds like Patel and Williamson sacked by her – then re-appointed by Johnson – how is that good for the nation, concerns for probity etc.? She was a poor communicator and appeared to lack good judgment but her understanding that the Brexit vote had to be delivered was sincere, genuine. Brexit would have happened sooner had more decent MPs on all sides voted for the good of the whole country, regardless of constituents and party managers in this case – they should have completed the job they started.
The fact that a rogue like Johnson, having been instrumental in the undermining of May, got the crown so easily just points to the ultimate carelessness of the Tory party. An ugly episode with an ungainly cast.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago

A good try, Peter, but it won’t wash. May didn’t trigger A50 at the right time. Cameron should have triggered it the morning after the referendum and, as he failed to do that, May should have done so the moment she entered office.
You completely ignore the sidelining of the Brexit Department and the disgraceful stitch-up at Chequers. Boris, and Davis, deserve credit for resigning at that point, unlike supposed ardent Leavers like Leadsom and McVey, who remained ineffectually in office.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

May was part of the Westminster coup. Her strategy was to negotiate a Brexit that was even less appealing than staying in the EU to hardline Brexiteers. Her tactic was to spin the process out so that patience snapped. She would have been successful had the voters not turned on her in 2017.

The roles of others are still unclear. What exactly was Gove up to? Did Boris bottle it? Or was he blackmailed into stepping aside? What changed to allow him to implement Brexit? Was it the spectre of a Corbyn government that would have been elected in 2017 had the campaign lasted another week?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago

It is quite funny to read the comments. Everyone (including May) is to blame but the Leavers…the ones that never bothered to develop a plan?!

Susie Wenman
Susie Wenman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Why did they need to? The plan was to be developed after the referendum and David Cameron was to be the one to implement it. He had already said so.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Susie Wenman

What? Same mentality as leaving a job without another to go to. The man never expected to lose. We, as an electorate should have never been given the opportunity to put on him the losing side. (Who were we to decide on a whim, that trade, jobs, livelihoods etc. could just be gambled a way?) There is not one political actor who emerges from this whole affair with any dignitiy, honour, deserving any respect. Absolutely despicable.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I don’t really understand this critique. Leave was a cross-party point of view, not a party of government, so what would be the point of their developing a plan? Who was going to implement it?
All these kinds of argument are transparent ex post attempts to justify ignoring the result. Moreover, exactly the same critique can be levelled at Remain: remain in what, exactly? A free trade area? A political union? A federal superstate as one of its provinces? A currency union? Or a version of the EU as it stood at June 2016 with no further absorption allowed?
Remain didn’t feel obliged to make of any this clear, so why should Leave?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

“…don’t understand this critique.” – Because you don’t want. The side (that is Leave) that is trying to change the status quo has to explain what it wants to do. UKIP was actually a political party with one goal only! Where is their plan?
And we know why there was no plan – read Dom’s blog.

G Harris
G Harris
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

There was no single ‘leave’ side, there was no leader of it, no-one was standing on a manifesto and no-one was standing for office off the back of it.

Leave was represented across the political spectrum, as was Remain.

It was about a necessarily simple binary question, a question which had caused deep divisions in British politics for 30 years, arguably longer.

Voting to leave the EU wasn’t a tickbox or MCQ affair for the simple reason that it wouldn’t have been possible and to somehow expect a disparate ‘Leave’ to come up with a complete manifesto for leaving when all of these things were subject to negotiation afterwards anyway is for the birds.

Nevermind that, as I recall, there was very little opposition to referendum in the first place from Remainers at the time because they were convinced they were going to walk it anyway and, like David Cameron naively believed when he first floated it with the UK electorate in 2015 as a winning manifesto pledge, this was their chance to finally shut the Eurosceptics up once and for all.

Needless to say, this didn’t exactly go according to plan.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Nice try but as I suspect you well know it was Remain that wanted to change the status quo.
It was the Remain mindset that took us from the status quo of the EEC to the EC to the EU. There was a faction within Remain that wanted to abolish rather than keep the ÂŁ, and there was a faction that really did – as Kenneth Clarke put it – “look forward to the day when the Westminster Parliament is just a council chamber in Europe”.
All of those are immense and in some cases irreversible (hence unconstitutional) changes to the status quo. Leave just wanted them to stop.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

If Parliament voted for the treaties there were constitutional. You clearly do not understand how UK constitution works. Parliament is supreme it can do whatever it wants – including joining EU tomorrow.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I clearly understand it a lot better than you do, and that’s what you can’t stand (and why you lost). Parliament can’t bind its successors meaning it can’t do anything irreversible. Replacing the pound with the euro and demoting Westminster to the status of a regional chamber would be irreversible, therefore illegal.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Back after the referendum, the polls divided about equallly in three: Hard Brexit, soft Brexit, remain.

How do you know what kind of Brexit people really voted for?

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This is a moving of the goalposts wholly characteristic of hardline Remainerdom’s constant behaviour after the Referendum.
Those Britons taking part in the June 2016 plebiscite who voted to leave the European Union had one goal: leaving the European Union.
The question on the ballot paper was never about on what terms we would leave; any more than it was about what kind of organisation the EU would become in the future. Remainers never talked about THAT, before or during or after the poll.
In like manner, people who fought for the Allies against the Axis during the Second World War did not have specific demands concerning what terms Germany, Italy and Japan should be offered in defeat. They simply wanted them defeated.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

One way of leaving the EU would be to quit the organisation, lose your vote, but stay within the single market and the customs union, something a bit like Norway. This would have provided what the leave campaign also promised, continued access and minimal disruption to business. Would you have accepted that as a valid implementation of the referendum result?

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Brexit ultimately was about sovereignty, not economics. It’s something remainers still don’t understand, and that many people in the EU still don’t grasp. A desire for self-determination, for good or for bad, is one of the strongest political drivers for change as countless independence movements have shown.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Oh, I understand that all right – but where did is say so in the referendum text? If Vote Leave had campaigned on ‘This will be expensive – but we will be FREE’ I would concede that they had a mandate.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

In politics, voters are expected to do their own homework (or listen to the other side) to understand the negative impacts of political mandates. They then make their choice. That choice, warts and all, is then the mandate.
If you think they shouldn’t have made that choice, then it was down to the remain campaign to work harder to explain the downsides. Remain after all was the best funded, establishment backed, with more ‘big guns’ than leave – they didn’t lack for resources or talking heads.
However, my take is people are smarter than you think and offset the economic risks against the perceived sovereignty benefit. They didn’t like where the EU was going and wanted off the train. If the EU had run some concessions or shown even a little bit of contrition May could have asked for a second referendum for a ‘new relationship’. Instead the EU doubled down and any chance of remain was lost.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

“In politics, voters are expected to do their own homework (or listen to the other side) to understand the negative impacts of political mandates. They then make their choice. That choice, warts and all, is then the mandate.”
SPOT ON!
If hardline Remainers think (as so many seem to do) that most voters are too ignorant, stupidly impassioned and thoughtless to make sane political choices, they should campaign with their equivalent of ‘This will be expensive – but we will be FREE’ = ‘This means dictatorship but we shall have GOOD GOVERNMENT’.
Funny how they and Monnet and Schumann and the entire EU hierarchy never actually say that, isn’t it?

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Scott
Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

P.S: Where, by the way, in the EU’s handling of its various briefs over the years, has been the good government?
On banks in debt, on the economy, on protectionism and over-regulation, on crony corporatism, on the Ukraine, on endless extension of the EU through cultures and economies wholly incompatible, on migration….
In re Stalin’s policies Communists used to say to Orwell, ‘You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs’.
Orwell replied ‘Where is the omelette?’

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Isn’t Gulag the Russian for omelette?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

My take is that people wanted the freedom for the UK to decide without caring what any other country wanted – and also the advantages of cooperation and free access to European markets. That is what I would want myself. So when a major political movement promised them they could get what they wanted, they chose to believe it. The referendum gave a mandate to have their cake and eat it – and no instructions on what to do when that proved impossible. Anyway, it makes no difference now. The 2019 election settled the issue. By then the British people knew the score, and chose to have whatever Boris Johnson could give them.

Added later:
How well do you think the DUP or the fishermen “understod the negative impacts” before they made their choice?”

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Of course they wanted to have the cake and eat it. That’s what everyone wants. I also think they did care about other countries – the vote was as much one about exasperation with the EU and the direction it was going for Europe as a whole, as it was with the desire to leave.
This is where the EU could have taken stock and paused, not just for the UK, but for other countries also feeling railroaded by the unstoppable project (cf other electoral setbacks for the EU). Someone could have resigned for instance. As an analogy the Brexit vote was like Messi threatening to leave Barcelona – a big deal pointing directly to issues of mis-management.
The EU also had the chance to present a better deal for staying in and to perhaps reassert key principles like subsidiarity – and so give May a lever for a second referendum. It didn’t – it played hardball thinking economics would win out.
So when 2019 comes around with nothing better on the table from the EU, voters were peeved. By this stage the handwaving was over, and they just wanted someone in office who would get it done. I think its terrible for the EU, but it’s even worse that the EU simply ploughs on regardless.

Jon Read
Jon Read
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

“it’s even worse that the EU simply ploughs on regardless”
It was ever thus.
Not many on here making reference to Camerons attempts on “reform” in the five years which preceded the vote

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Read

Cameron was a charlatan, now he is as spiv.
He should “do the decent thing” if he knew how!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

From the EU side it looks like a better analogy would be Balotelli leaving Manchester City OK, Inter Milan.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Dumb DUP voted Remain…we voted as UK not Celtic nationalism….

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Did you mean NI, not DUP? Try this link – the headline is “EU Referendum: DUP takes out four-page ‘Vote Leave EU’ ad in British Metro free newspaper”. The DUP campaigned for leave – and now are complaining about the border in the Irish sea. Be careful what you ask for – you might get it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Yes, Blackpool and Clacton and Stoke voted Leave because they truly understood sovereignty!
We know why Blackpool voted Leave, you don’t like it so you project your feelings on others.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Might have some weight if the UK really had been oppressed and subjugated. Brexit was whipped up by chancers and xenophobes. Of course leavers say it’s about sovereignty because they know they lost the economic argument, which in this context is actually more pressing and real. Repeat this country has never been oppressed and subjugated. I find the British whimpering, self-righteousness horribly pathetic.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

No-one says the UK was oppressed and subjugated – I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that argument made, so it feels like a made-up aunt sally.
Sovereignty is about self-determination – the right to make your own mistakes. And about how much power you give to a distant centre, and how much you seek to retain locally – a key tension in political history. Economics is orthogonal to this – not the opposite.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Fair enough if there was a genuine spirit of ‘leave me to make my own mistakes’. Instead it was typically the Rees-Mogg/Cash/Francois Monty Pythonesque absurdities which persuaded more people.
We should have never gone so far in in 1992 or had a referendum then rather than 24 years later, when everything was so much more integrated. There was never an actual crisis in 2016. That’s why I find it so hard to understand, even though I must accept it.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Lots of people wanted a referendum in 1992 (after the ERM disaster and the Maastricht Treaty was on the table) but this was – as always [1980-2014] withheld by a political class which has long since become entirely self-serving and representing only itself and its donor owners.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Good god no.
All the rule taking but no power?
That is what remainers thought we would expect but that is not leaving the EU

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Remain would have liked that because it could be jeered at as the worst of all possible outcomes: you still pay but you don’t vote. Nobody else would have sought it.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Not at all. It would be a better outcome than Brexit – if obviously worse that staying in.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The EU never wanted UK to be like Norway …Norway refused Open door Immigration, 2) To give up Oil &Gas reserves to EU or 3) Fishing limits…I worked with centre partiet of Norge in June 2016…like greek Finance minister,they told me The best tactic uk can adopt is Walk way !

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

It is “funny” how you put the burden on Remainers. Where is the Brexit plan?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Come off it Jeremy, when did the British ever have a plan?

The Empire was acquired as an afterthought, we entered the Great War without a clue as whose side we should really be on, entered WW 2 almost bankrupt, rejected the Common Market in 1952 for the moribund corpse of the dying Empire, yet survived it all!

The best plan as Clausewitz said, is not to have one at all. Just ‘cuff it’ on the day. So far that has proved a remarkably successful policy.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Very unfortunate allsions to WWII.
If a so-called ‘soft’ Brexit, i.e. a semi-detachment from the EU, where the connections were preferable trade conditions, had been delivered, most voters would have accepted it as Brexit.

Mark H
Mark H
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It’s always been obvious that the unifying outcome would have been the softest Brexit that re-established primacy of Parliament over Brussels. The was clear support for a close economic relationship and majority support for laws affecting the UK to be made exclusively in Westminster.
When the referendum result is that close, it’s clearly not a mandate for a hard Brexit, and the right answer would have been compromise.
And I think that soft-brexit-with-sovereignty is what TM was trying to deliver (of course her own words didn’t support this, as initially she sounded very hard-Brexity).
But – shame on the EU and their supporters who ostracised her. Shame on the Brexit Ultras who thought that they could get all they had ever wanted, by withholding their support. And shame on the Labour party who, seeing this shtshow, tried to exploit it to get their monkey into No 10 (sorry, that as it is probably offensive to monkeys).

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

You can hardly expect the EU to support her while she is talking hard Brexit. But you are right about the rest.

Mark H
Mark H
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I wasn’t expecting the EU to support her, but to engage with the government and help them find a mutually agreeable brexit that still honoured the referendum outcome.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

LOL
You are asking the other side to compensate for UK’s lack of planning for Leaving.

Mark H
Mark H
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No, not really. I just thought that the EU and the Remain side were grown-ups and would make the best of a bad situation. I had expected they would work for the best outcome, especially during the immediate post-referendum period. That’s the time when the UK did not have a firm plan and the EU could have had some influence on the plan. Instead they chose a path that got us Boris and Cummings.
A bit of background – as an ex-South African I did not vote in the Brexit referendum as I could tell both sides were lying and thought it was a decision for the Brits, anyway.
However I did vote in the 1992 SA referendum on ending Apartheid, and I can tell you there was no plan on the table then. The government was just asking for confirmation that they should continue negotiating with the ANC on a future constitutional settlement.
When the details of the constitution had been worked out, we didn’t have another referendum. Instead the new constitution was legislated in 1993 by Parliament (at that time elected by the white population on a FPTP basis).
That’s why the supposed requirement for leave to have had a fully worked out plan on referendum day has never made sense to me.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mark H
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

That is the basic UK mistake – believing that their cooperation was so important that other parties would have to be adult and give concessions to keep the UK on board.

For remainers the best of a bad situation would be to remain as close to the EU as possible. They might have done better, tactically, to accept the referendum result and push for what the leavers would have called ‘Brexit in name only’, but they might have lost that as well. Anyway, Labour had other ideas.

For the EU it was simple: more access = more restrictions; less restrictions = less access. The rest was up to the UK. The EU had little to gain and much to lose by giving the UK VIP access to the single market, and the more the UK went for brinksmanship and throwing its weight about, the less the EU would want a future based on positive cooperation with the UK. Remainers have much to regret, but for the EU the current situation probably is the better outcome, compared to any alternative Johnson or May would have been willing to accept.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The problem of the negotiation is writ large here – A v B or B v A when the ideal solution for the EU would have been a second referendum with the UK staying in.
Politically how could that have been structured. Firstly the EU would have needed to acknowledge the problem that centralisation was causing. Secondly a couple of EU heads could have gone with no real political consequence to the EU itself. And thirdy, the EU just beefed up talk of subsidiarity and local options and some token budget shifting. Add some icing sugar and that could have given May enough to go back to the country. A second referendum, a la Irish solution to the EU Lisbon Treaty, and a narrow victory to stay in. Panic over.
Instead the EU doubled down with blinkered negotiations wrongly believing the UK wouldn’t be so stupid as to take a hard no-deal. The damage to the EU will play out in decades, not months, as it repeatedly shows itself to be quasi-latin rules and regulatory body, with little understanding of how to actually get things done.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

That is how it might just have played out – if the UK had stayed in. Other times with awkward referendum results, the two sides got together and worked a way to paper over the problems, having a common interest in keeping the EU functioning.

Here Britain is threatening to leave unless it gets its way . And you propose the EU should admit Britain was right and its entire development plan was wrong, have a couple of senior people fall on their sword as a sign of contrition, and adapt to the British demands. Which could be repeated any time Britain felt like it, and would lead to either British supremacy or every other country trying the same trick. Strange as it may seem, the EU countries do not believe that they are on the road to disaster, and only by following the superior British example can they be saved. They believe that they are doing the best that can be done for a continent-wide collaboration, that collectively they are bigger and stronger than the UK, and that a bitter divorce will hurt far more for the smaller and weaker partner – Britain. I’d say they have a point.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Err. Yes. Losing one of the top 4 members is a disaster for the EU, but the EU is blind to it. If they had re-adjusted to counter Brexit, the referendum would never be repeated – lesson learnt. But equally the EU needs to wake up to European voters – Britain is just one symptom. How many times should the EU ignore voters and national politics for ‘the project’? Centralisation creates political stresses and amplifies the voice of local popularists. Yet the EU carries on regardless, ignoring the consequences of its actions to pursue the grand theoretical framework with technocrats in charge. The EU needs take stock – votes and voters do matter.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

The claim that Leave should have done is made in bad faith, anyway. It’s not in any way an honest challenge. Whatever Leave had said was the ambition, or the general outline, Remain would have said it was impossible.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Most of the things Leave promised were impossible – that is not the remainers’ fault. A hard Brexit – no concessions to the EU, no market access, no goodwill or collaboration afterwards, problems around NI – that was always possible. That would have been a campaign in good faith – but clearly Remain Leave (bloody typos) preferred to do otherwise.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

you really are useless, in 1975 There was a Plan to leave common market .ignored by BBC,iTV,lords &establishment… Plans..we have 65 Trade deals ……Remainers claiming to know the future is Laughable…

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

If remain won 52% to 48% we all know there would have been no compromise from the remain side.
It would have been you lost shut up but the other way and it was you must comprise!

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Which indeed was how it had been for the previous 40-odd years.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

What compromise do you think should have been made in such a scenario?

Last edited 2 years ago by Jim Jones
Mark H
Mark H
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Although conversely the Leavers then would never stop yapping on about losing due to outside influence, that now that Britain remained in the EU the country would be doomed, etc.
And pushing for their own neverendum as the SNP love to do.
Yes I’m cynical: as someone commented earlier my job as voter is to pick the least bad option. So I was not well pleased when the 3 main UK parties offered up a trio of narcissists as potential PMs in 2019.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

As the sainted Lord Jonathan Sumption KS pronounced
“52% cannot expect 100% of the Prizes”

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

A soft Brexit may have been the equitable choice given the closeness of the vote. However, it can sometimes be the case that a middle of the road approach will result in an eventual outcome that is not good for anybody. The question is if the Brexit decision was one such scenario. It is not always possible to ride two horses simultaneously, some things demand a binary decision even if one side will feel hard done by – a compromise leads to outcomes where not only does neither side get what they want, both sides end up with something that is worse overall than picking one stance (either one) and sticking with. It was Dr Fox I believe who highlighted that a soft Brexit would leave the UK in situation where access to the UK market would become an asset to be traded by the EU bureaucracy, with the UK having little say in the decisions. A clean break is sometimes the best thing, notwithstanding that a lot of rancour is the result in the short term, as we have had.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I think that applies to Joxit too. Any new referendum should not be a choice between departure versus even more English money. The alternative to departure should be the closure and disbandment of the failed Scottish parliament and devolution experiment.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Except it wasn’t close 489 Constituencies (A lot in Red Wall) to 161 voted to leave. 17,410,742, to 16,141,241
a majority of 1,269,501 votes..even over 1 Million Scots voted to leave..SNP consistent whining shows the real corrupt heart of ”remainers” Lets Keep having Referendums,till we get One We win! ..Wont work…If EU is bigger partner why do 3.5Million to Up to 5million EU citizens want to settle in UK….

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

the softest Brexit that re-established primacy of Parliament over Brussels. 

Which, in practice, would have meant a hard Brexit.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

You are right there.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

Absolutely.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

One that did not amount to Remain.

omuireartaigh
omuireartaigh
2 years ago

Theresa May messed everything up with her three red lines, not giving anyone a chance to decide how hard or soft Brexit was going to be. She also continued to ignore the problems and contradictions her inherent in her position instead just spouting clichĂ©s about “looking for the best possible solution” or whatever. When the UK declines in the long term due to its pointless isolation, May will be among those to blame.

Mark H
Mark H
2 years ago
Reply to  omuireartaigh

Erm, the job of Parliament is to scrutinize government legislation. She gave the country an election in 2017 which mean we all elected MPs who would determine the form of Brexit by amending poor legislation, each one responsible to their constituents. At least this is what I had hoped, but instead of the MPs trying to find a common purpose they saw May’s attempts to compromise as weakness.