If there is one thing that has brought Theresa May’s premiership to the brink of death, time and time again, it is her lack of conviction and, resulting u-turns.

May repeatedly said there would be no election and, then called one, she promoted a manifesto which suggested the creation of a so-called, ‘Dementia Tax’ and, then abandoned said policy days later. And, perhaps most importantly, she voted to remain in the EU, but now acts as if Brexit was her life’s work.

If Theresa May’s past behaviour is anything to go by she will be willing to pursue the most destructive of Brexits the minute she receives any trouble from her backbenchers. But, pandering to the wishes of hardliners would, ultimately, be deeply harmful for the country and could, as a result herald her downfall.

Once led by David Cameron, a passionate believer in the European project, the Conservatives are now the party of Brexit  —  a title formerly held by UKIP. Their grip on power, albeit a weak one, is thanks to the right wing Democratic Unionist Party, the only major Northern Irish party who supported Leave. And, only by being the beneficiaries of a UKIP collapse could the Conservatives take 43% of the vote and, as a result become the largest party in Parliament.

Ever since Theresa May began her campaign to be Prime Minister and Conservative leader she has set out to prove her commitment to a ‘hard Brexit’. Her leadership bid raised many questions about her commitment to leaving the EU, having campaigned, albeit half heartedly, for remain. But, after starting her campaign by declaring “Brexit means Brexit”, she has never shown any doubt, at least publicly, that a hard Brexit is the right course for the country to take.

At every twist and turn she has indulged the delusions of hardline leavers. Having declared at various points that; Britain could and should stay in the Single Market while, controlling immigration, that we could leave the EU, without paying any sort of ‘divorce bill’ and, that we could reduce net migration to the tens of thousands after Brexit  —  despite the fact that non-EU migration alone exceeds that number.

But May’s rhetoric is consequential. Instead of accepting a reasonable ‘divorce bill’, she pretended that it was, somehow, realistic for us to leave without paying a penny, resulting in the EU proposing gargantuan sums  —  in order to get us to negotiate a reasonable price.

And, her promise to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands will likely not come true, leading to further disenfranchisement with the political system and, on the off chance it does come true, it will probably be because Brexit has made Britain a less attractive country to travel to. Ultimately, all May’s hubris does is delay progress and, make a good Brexit less likely.🔷

(Cover: Photograph by Flickr / Chatham House, Countering Terrorism: A Global Perspective, 9 December 2015)



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Politics writer for PoliticsMeansPolitics.com and Backbench UK - particularly interested in Brexit, US politics, and the Labour Party.