Theresa May’s plan seemed so simple: we’re way ahead in the polls, so let’s call an election, grab a great majority and start building a strong and stable Britain. Instead, she found out that the British people are tired of empty slogans and that they don’t believe she is the right person to lead the UK through the complex Brexit negotiations.
Theresa May so far remains the British prime minister and is willing to do anything it might take to get life support from the Northern Irish extremists. Nobody else is willing to touch the Conservatives and Theresa May could thus be pushed out of Downing Street 10 soon. So far her survival strategy was to ritually sacrifice her closest advisers – but not only Boris Johnson (despite the loud public denials) is sharpening his knives.
If Theresa May learned anything from the Cameron referendum lesson and did not call the unnecessary election, London would be finalizing the Brexit negotiation preparations right now. The start date should have been June 19 and Europe is heading into the negotiations with a clear, detailed and published mandate, unanimously approved by all 27 members. On the other side of the table (if the negotiation starts at all) will be representatives of a very weak government with an unknown mandate since the unrealistic phrases from the Tory election manifesto are exactly this – unrealistic. Moreover, the European negotiators will have to keep asking – will our British partners even be at the table even a few months down the road?
Maybe Theresa May will strike the deal with the Northern Irish Unionist and survive, maybe it will be somebody else who will close the deal and replace prime minister May. But whatever survival agreement the Tories get, it will be very fragile and we may see another election in the fall. If the Brexit clock were not ticking, we could simply follow the situation as an interesting case study on how formerly successful political party totally lost its feel for reality and made two very bad decisions within two years under two leaders – the unnecessary referendum on EU membership and the unnecessary early election.
However, Theresa May started the Brexit two year countdown at the end of March and so far achieved only two things – waste three out of about 18 months we have to close the deal before it heads to national parliaments for approval and significantly weaken the British position.
Theresa May wanted the snap election to strengthen the Conservative majority since the original majority of 17 votes was not enough to get many key things through. And Europe hoped a stronger majority will enable Theresa May to agree to a deal that makes sense for both sides and liberate her from the chokehold of Brextremist MPs. Instead, we will negotiate with a weak government that must rely on extreme partners and where basically every government MP holds a veto, thus reducing the trustworthiness of the British negotiators to almost zero as there is no guarantee that any agreement will be passed by the current British parliament.
Unless there is a new election this fall that brings a government with a reasonable majority, the risk of no deal will increase immensely. And if there is no deal, Britain will simply tumble out of the EU in March 2019, we will spend years in lawsuits about payments and liabilities, the Europeans will lose their rights in the UK and British firms will smash their heads on the wall that will suddenly appear between the EU and the UK as there will be no free trade deal. If this worst of all scenarios materializes, the UK will pay a terrible price for the foolishness of David Cameron and Theresa May. And it will be all for nothing.