Queen Of Omnishambles Theresa May And The Brexit Bunglers

11/10/2016 11:05
Gutzemberg via Getty Images

There are many reasons why Theresa May and her government cannot be trusted to make a Brexit deal and force it through without it being subject to democratic processes.

Theresa May fell into the job of prime minister when Brexiteers fled from that poisoned chalice, and she therefore lacks a mandate. Others at the heart of the Brexit process are, in my view, mediocre MPs linked to a foolish and dishonest Leave campaign.

Furthermore, May has a track record of making a massive mess of important decisions and processes. Whether overseeing the omnishambles of immigration and border control (which helped fuel the mess we face with Brexit) or the embarrassing shambles around Abu Qatada, who ran rings around her and her team of barristers, May has sufficiently proven her ineptitude.

She has also run roughshod over the law, becoming the second home secretary in history to be found guilty of contempt of court, after ignoring a legal ruling to free an Algerian man from an immigration detention centre.

Even if it wasn't for the above, any rational person would assert that the Brexit deal, which could be the UK's biggest decision since World War Two, would need the scrutiny and sanction of the House of Commons, that Sovereign body elected by the people and for the people. But May and colleagues' track record of ineptitude makes it doubly important that this process takes place.

Of course, it is May's ineptitude and brittle arrogance that makes her want to impose a deal without checking that it is what the UK wants. To prefer to make a terrible deal than admit you are wrong would be a reminder of dangerous arrogance we saw in Bush, Blair and are seeing in Donald Trump. Imposing a deal would not be democracy but a dishonest fudge, driven by the hollow narcissism of a poor leader.

Speaking in Denmark, Theresa May said on Monday that EU citizens living in the UK at the point which Brexit is complete would be allowed to stay, as long as UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU would be allowed to stay there. This may be some relief for Brits abroad and workers from EU states here, but will not be music to everyone's ears. Within hours of the Referendum result, it became clear that some people thought it would mean EU citizens would be deported immediately.

This is an illustration of how different people voted for different things, which emphasises the need for Commons debates and a vote. If people were voting to leave because they thought it would eject immigrants already here, give billions to the NHS or increase their chances of prosperity, they were cruelly misled.

No credible economist I've heard of expects the UK to be better off as a result of leaving the EU, and measures have already been taken to reduce the risk of the economy nosediving--as Sterling already has. Brexit is at least two and a half years away, yet the pound in relation to the US dollar has already plummeted to the lowest level it has been since former Beatle Paul McCartney was singing with a choir of imaginary frogs.

A bad Brexit deal would mean tariffs on trade dramatically pushing up prices for food and other essentials. In pushing for Brexit, prominent Tories made much of the fact that we buy more from EU counties than we sell to them. This imbalance of trade was never a good thing, but it would become catastrophic for British families if we find prices of necessities shooting up.

However, despite the huge risks to the UK if she fails to get a good deal, Theresa May is refusing to consider a House of Commons vote on it. Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader Ed Miliband and prominent Tory Dominic Grieve are among the growing cross-party movement calling for a Brexit deal to go through Parliament. It is an issue that is uniting the Labour Party. Big business, which to a large extent bankrolls the Tory Party, also has cause to be alarmed at the prospect of May ending up with a poor deal, such as a 'hard Brexit'.

As splits in the Conservative Party get bigger and pressure mounts from key stakeholders, it is questionable that May, already appearing out of her depth, will be able to keep her head above water. The currents swirling around her will only get stronger and the water will keep rising.

Brexit secretary David Davis faced howls of derision in Parliament on Monday when he tried to outline how MPs will and won't be involved with the Brexit deal. He began by suggesting that a process that disallows a Commons vote on the deal would actually empower parliamentarians. This clunky Orwellian spinning didn't go down well with MPs on both sides of the house. His bumbling approach makes it extremely hard to imagine a good deal for the UK within the two-year negotiation period.

There are Leave voters, as well as Remainers, who believe that the team chosen to deal with Brexit is so poor that it was deliberately selected to thwart the process. Though an amusing idea, I'm not convinced that this is true. However, whether by design or ineptitude, what we have seen from Theresa May and her team so far hasn't lifted her from the characterisation of Queen of the Omnishambles.