Britain determines her future
The British are heading for the polls this morning in the quest of Prime Minister Theresa May to harvest a strong mandate to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union alias EU. Mrs. May assumed office as Prime Minister nearly a year ago, indeed in July last year, after David Cameron stepped down. Mr. Cameron threw in the towel following the decision of Britain to break with the EU. His allies came mainly from Scotland. While the UK as a whole voted to pull out, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain—62 per cent to 38 per cent. Mr. Cameron saw his defeat as a vote of no confidence in his leadership. This is in line with British tradition of honour and decency. The snap election is to reaffirm Mrs. May as Prime Minister. She assumed office as an unelected Prime Minister; yes, she was elected by her party as its leader and the party leader automatically becomes the Prime Minister if his or her party wins at a general election. Mrs. May, therefore, wants to face the EU juggernauts with confidence of the backing of the British people, hence the snap election which is coming nearly three years before the normal schedule is due. It is, therefore, no surprise that many of the MPs, including from among Mrs. May’s own Tory Party grumbled aloud, especially after she put their minds at rest that there would not be any election out of season.
The Daily Mirror, the Labour leaning mass-circulation newspaper, says of it in its accustomed roaring headline: “The lady is for U-Turning.” The Sun another title in that genre calls it “Blue Murder” with the riders that say “PM’s snap poll will kill off Labour”; “She will smash rebel Tories, too”; and “Bid for clear Brexit mandate.” The quality newspapers come out in subdued headlines, The Daily Telegraph: “May’s bolt from the blue”; and The Times: “May heads for election landslide.” Daily Mail in its own screaming heading interprets it to mean it is to “Crush the saboteurs.” Predictably, the Scotsman, the major newspaper from Scotland believes British election “will be a vote on Scottish independence,” expressing the Scots’ sentiment to part with the UK itself. It is an echo of the reaction of Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister who is determined to pull out Scotland from the United Kingdom. She alleges that Theresa May wants to use June 8 election to make UK more right wing and force through a hard Brexit and impose deeper cuts. “Let’s stand up for Scotland”, she beckons to her people. Many of the Labour leaning members of the public are expressing that fear as well that if Mrs. May wins it will be a mandate to cut funding of social services, particularly to secondary schools and those with sixth forms.
Today’s election is primarily to boost parliamentary Conservative majority in a 650-seat commons. Before Parliament was dissolved, the Conservatives had 330 seats, leaving other parties, principal among them the Opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats to share the remaining 320 seats. There are other smaller parties such as the Green Party, the UK Independence Party, and Scottish National Party and so on. That parliamentary majority is what will give Mrs. May the muscle to push through. In her own words, “…it is with a strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.”She went on to say: “ I think it’s important that we have this election now, I think it can strengthen the hand of the government in our negotiations to make Brexit a success and also enable us to set out our plan for a stronger Britain –taking Britain forward beyond Brexit. I want to ensure we get on with the job of delivering on Brexit, making Brexit a success… I want to get the best possible deal for Britain. I want it to be a real success for this country.”
Will Mrs. May get the majority for which she is pushing hard as predicted by The Times of London, William Rees-Mog’s Thunderer? The Green Party is joining forces with the Scottish National Party (SNP) to secure what it calls a “Tory-free Scotland”. The Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) have, on their part, been pressing for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal. Many in May’s Conservative Party are saying, “If Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t leader of the Labour Party we would lose this election—and we deserve to. Theresa May might get a big majority but she has definitely lost power in the party.” Their fear was that the funding cuts she plans without wide consultation within the party may be resented by the electorate. All this was before the recent terrorist attacks, the ones of Manchester and last Saturday bringing concerns to a peak.
On 22 March, the terror attack on British Parliament and Westminster Bridge left four persons dead and 40 injured. Among the dead was a police officer. The attacker ran his car into the railings outside Parliament, jumped out and ran into New Palace Yard, stabbing a police officer to death. He was shot dead by armed police. After that came the Manchester terror attack on 22 May in which 22 people were killed and no fewer than 59 were injured. The attack of last Saturday, 02 June, on London Bridge and in nearby Borough Market left seven people dead and 58 injured. This is saying that just about two months there were three terror attacks with fatalities in Britain. From figures so far available, in 2013, there were 18, 065 deaths from terrorist attacks. The following year, the figure shot to 32, 763 almost double the fatalities of the previous year. In 2015, the figure came down slightly to 28,428 deaths.
One of the vexed issues for Mrs. May wanting to pull Britain out of the European Union with particular reference to single market matter is immigration. The Single Market requires participating group of countries to remove barriers to trade; it permits goods, people, services and capital to move around as freely as within a country. Also under the agreement of the Single Market, citizens can study, live, shop, work and retire in any member state. In the face of terrorism, in the reasoning of Mrs. May, membership of such club nations has become unwise and unsafe for the British society. It is being stated that the liberal attitude of the British has allowed infiltration of undesirable elements who do not share the ideals of the British society. And so, according to reports, Mrs. May does not want to sacrifice control over immigration for membership of the single market. Yes, she wants access to the single market but only on a full reciprocal basis through comprehensive free trade agreements. It has subsisting agreements with 50 countries as of now and is working on 70 more. In other words, she wants to have independently negotiated trade deals across the world “and set competitive tax rates and draw up policies to attract the world’s best companies and biggest investors to Britain.” This is an echo of Margaret Thatcher’s policy which revived and pumped oxygen into the dying British economy in the Scarghillian struggle to control the board rooms and brought about what was later known “as the winter of discontent.” Mrs. Thatcher courageously took on Scarghillian unions by first sending sunny Jim (Prime Minister James Callaghan) packing from 10 Downing Street.
Look at what Western Europe is up against: Within a week beginning from Monday, 18 July and 26 July last year, there were horror attacks in Germany in one of which an expectant mother was killed with a machete and in another passengers in a train were hacked to death in Wurzburg. A week before then, on 14 July 84 people were killed and 100 were injured in Nice, southern city of France when a lorry was deliberately driven into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day. Earlier on 13 November, 2015, 130 people were killed in a series of co-ordinated attacks in Paris, one at a stadium, two in bars and yet another at a restaurant—described as the most deadly assault on French soil since world War 11. In those attacks fire was also opened at a concert hall in which many spectators were killed. There was another attack this time at a church on 28 July last year in which the priest was killed and four worshippers were taken as hostages during morning mass. In Brussels, bombings killed 32 people and injured 300. These took place at Brussels Airport and at a Metro station. In Berlin, on 19 December last year, a truck was crashed into a Christmas market killing 12 and injuring 60 others. It was a similar incident of a truck crashing into a crowded shopping street in Stockholm. That was 07 April.
Today’s election goes beyond the existential questions of two years ago. The main issues for the electorate are breaking with the European Union on the one hand and taking control of immigration and security on the other. Before the attacks, Labour had narrowed the gap from 20 points when Mrs. May first made the announcement to less than 10 points, the pollsters counting on the youths who are professing Labour coming out in large numbers to vote. Now with the security issue on the front burner, many are likely to rally round Mrs. May to get the full mandate she is seeking. In her campaign she said funding cuts for the police would be re-examined with a view to strengthening the security forces. Henceforth, suspected terrorists would be deported and those tried and convicted would similarly be deported after serving their terms.
In this New Time, with its feature of abundance of power pouring into our world and the Beyond from On High and animating all that slumbers in all human beings, all associations which are unnatural, which are contrary to the adamantine and self-acting Law of Homogeneity, Likes attracting likes, will face very stiff tests. Many are bound to break down or break loose where the union has been forced instead of the people exercising their inalienable free will to negotiate. The union will be managed only if the leadership of such nation-states is mature and knowledgeable about the Law of Balance, balance between taking and giving. Brexit is a signal. Each member nation in the EU will have to decide, sooner than later, what is in its own best interest.
The British election is ever of tremendous interest to Nigerians. Britain is regarded as their second home. You are hardly regarded a successful man if you cannot boast of a flat or a house yonder in the UK. Of course, it is a haven for those fleeing from Ibrahim Magu’s unsparing dragnet. By tomorrow, we will know if we are entering a New Britain or the old, whether Mrs. May is leading Britons to a New Jerusalem or not.
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