Theresa May is supposed to be conducting what are widely agreed to be some of the most difficult and important negotiations that the UK has faced in recent history, and she can’t even negotiate a deal to keep her own government in office. Mind you, it’s not like anyone should have had high expectations of success. This after all is the Prime Minister who put David Davis in charge of getting a good Brexit deal, even though he paid for that U2 album in full and thinks that BOGOF is the lead EU negotiator from Bulgaria.
The deal with the DUP to keep Theresa May’s government safe is looking as though it’s as lifeless as the atmosphere of a rocky asteroid in that distant galaxy where Theresa May dreams of a making a success of Brexit. According to reports on Tuesday, the DUP were saying that they were surprised at the low level of negotiating experience in May’s government. That bodes well doesn’t it. The DUP is reportedly angry at being taken for granted, a perception which wasn’t helped by Theresa May’s office prematurely announcing that a deal had been reached and then having to hurriedly withdraw. You’d have thought that the DUP would have approved of early withdrawal, seeing as how they oppose contraceptive rights, but apparently not in this instance.
The government of the UK which is going to take on the entire might of the European Union in order to get Britain a good deal for Brexit, and it’s been outwitted by a bunch of creationists and climate change deniers whose idea of negotiating is to march with a big drum and some guys with orange sashes singing about killing Catholics. Although to be honest that’s an unfair characterisation, certain supporters of the DUP have many years of experience, having been involved in negotiations for decades. There’s negotiating cash for ash, not to mention the hostage negotiations, protection racket negotiations, and negotiating a truce with the paramilitary crime gang in the next estate.
The talks to arrange a deal, according to the DUP, have not been progressing as expected, by which they meant that they had expected the Conservatives to have some sort of a clue about what they wanted, how to achieve it, and how to put it into effect. One of those things that the rest of us call a “plan”, in other words. The Tories don’t do plans, at least not in the sense that anyone else would recognise it. What Tories do is short term self interest, bluster, and bullying. When faced across the negotiating table with people who do have a plan, the Tories are left with nothing except confusion and Daily Mail headlines blaming the Germans. Instead of the smooth and easy progression that the DUP had expected, they discovered that the talks were progressing like an Orange Walk in Drumcree and were being hampered by people who were pointing out, quite reasonably which is unusual for Tories, that the DUP are climate change denying creationist whose idea of women’s rights is allowing women to choose what tea service to use and who think that not actually being stoned by an angry mob of Presbyterian fundamentalists counts as all the gay rights that anyone has any right to expect.
The Queen’s Speech is on top of us, and there’s no deal agreed with the DUP. The fate of the UK government is more uncertain and more chaotic than it was last week, and it was pretty messed up then. Theresa May can, and probably will, press ahead with minority government even without the support of the DUP, but that’s making a weak position so much weaker. The British government descends into a confused disaster zone, just at the very time that the country is crying out for leadership, and they’ve created this mess all by themselves. It’s all so needless, and all a result of the greed for power of the Conservative party and their determination to put short term party interest before all other considerations.
They’re doing that again this week in Scotland. Tory MEP Ian Duncan stood as the Westminster candidate for Perth, and lost. But the Tories wanted him in the Scotland Office, and so they’ve given him a peerage and have installed him in government anyway, despite the fact that the voters rejected him just a few days ago. What happened to respecting the result of the ballot box eh? It now turns out that it only applies when it suits the Tories, but now they’ve proven that their insistence on respecting votes is hypocritical cant. And we’ll be reminding them of it at every opportunity.
The only reason that Theresa May is limping on in power is because no one else wants to take responsibility for the epic galactofuck that will pass for British government for the foreseeable future. Many amongst the Tories want Theresa to carry the can for the next few months at least, and then they can mount a leadership challenge when the shape of Brexit becomes clearer.
It was already considered as difficult to get a decent deal on Brexit as it was to get a Tory MP to vote for stricter regulations on rental properties. Now it’s likely to be impossible. Westminster doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what it wants to get from the Brexit negotiations beyond a confused mush of contradictory wishes and fond hopes. As a nation, we’d be better off buying a lottery ticket and putting all our hopes for a better future in a daydream of a jackpot win. At least there are finite odds of winning the lottery, vanishingly small, but at least they can be quantified and are realistic. All there is for Brexit is a fantasy of flag waving and empire nostalgia and there’s not even slim odds of any of it coming true.
The only certainty left in British politics is that there is no certainty. There is no stability, there is no security. Not risking the supposed certainty, stability, and security of the British state was one of the main campaign points of the Better Together campaign in 2014, the British state has destroyed that all by itself. We can’t predict what the shape of British politics will be next month, never mind in two years’ time. Anyone who says that Scotland must rule out any prospect of a referendum on the outcome of Brexit is a fool. But then the Tories have demonstrated that we’re governed by fools. The British ship of state is a ship of fools.
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