Bungling, gutless May

Does a country get the leaders that it deserves? asks Dalrymple.

If so, what does the present political disarray say about Britain? Or is it that the conditions of modern democracy guarantee the ascension of ambitious mediocrities, leaders without powers of leadership?

From the first in the Brexit negotiations, Dalrymple writes,

Theresa May, the prime minister, who had already proved her weakness and incompetence at the Home Office, showed the vision of a Chamberlain.

He points out that it it should have been obvious to her that

it was essential, in fact a matter of life and death, for the European Union to make Brexit a disaster for Britain because, were it not, then that would be a disaster for the European Union.

A prosperous Britain outside the European Union

would have destroyed the EU’s raison d’être, which was already strongly under attack. Emmanuel Macron even said that if France had held a referendum at the same time that Britain did, the result would have been a bigger majority for leaving than in Britain.


was thus an opportunity for European politicians to demonstrate that, however unsatisfactory the Union might be, life would be worse without it.

May’s problem

was that the party she headed was itself divided on Brexit. It was here that leadership was most required and most lacking. Her weak idea was to try to satisfy both wings of her party by compromise, which predictably pleased neither. Now she pleases practically no one, but clings to power—or office, in any case—like a shipwrecked sailor clutching a raft.

Dalrymple notes that

the dangers facing the country as a result of this débâcle are enormous.

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