When the UK voted in referendum to leave the European Union in 2016, it led to a new Leadership Election of the ruling Conservative Party following the resignation of then-Prime Minister David Cameron, who was opposed to the “Brexit” initiative. Public support for her was high from those who voted to leave, and she promised a withdrawal from the EU that would be a compromise that would benefit the UK and not adversely affect the EU.
Unfortunately conflicting ideas on the means of Brexit led to successive defeats for May’s negotiated withdrawal strategies with the 2019 deadline. She eventually announced her resignation in May, and on her last speech as Prime Minister, delivered her critique on the global political trends that led to this quagmire.
As BBC tells it, outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech on Wednesday, July 17, in the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in London, that bespoke of her worries for the prominent political trends around the world, which in her view has contributed to her failure to deliver a negotiated exit for the UK from the European Union. She particularly called out “populist” and “absolutist” politicians, whom she says are detrimental to pursuing political compromise.
May also expressed concerns that the prevailing political culture that puts over-emphasis on “winners and losers” that spur all political viewpoints to irreconcilable extremes. She warns against such polarized extremism saying, “The spirit of compromise in the common interest is also crucial in meeting some of the greatest global challenges of our time.” The lack of desire to meet in the middle, she notes, is what caused political factions to sabotage her negotiated Brexit proposals due to a desire for a “winner-take-all” approach such as the push for a “no-deal” Brexit that would see the UK leave the EU in 2019 without any new arrangements.
The perceived targets of Theresa May’s final definitive statement as Prime Minister are varied. Without naming names she has implicated her potential ministerial successor Boris Johnson, a major opponent of her negotiated Brexit approach. It could also point to Russian President Vladimir Putin who has cryptically forecast the death of liberalism. Even US President Donald Trump is referenced, with May’s opinion that the only “viable” political approach nowadays is to disagree with opponents and simultaneously demeaning their position. Trump had insulted four Democratic members of Congress from ethnic minorities, calling them to “go home to their countries,” a call echoed by his extremely vocal supporters.
May announced her stepping down as Conservative/Tory Leader, and thus the Prime Ministry, last May 24. Her resignation will take effect when a replacement Leader is elected by next week.
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