Theresa May doesn’t have a reputation for flexibility and collaboration. 

Posted By: January 26, 2019

Perhaps Theresa May is not as stupid as people think


Patrick Murphy. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday,  January 26, 2019 
It is a fundamental law of contemporary Irish politics that Theresa May is a witch.

Indeed, without her, politicians would have little to talk about and, heaven forbid, civic nationalists would have to organize a conference in the Waterfront Hall, analyzing why Ireland, north and south, has so much poverty, social and economic inequality, and ailing health and education services. (Oh, and they could ask why nationalist politicians continue to take their salary from Stormont for doing nothing.)

But in Irish politics, people tend to come last, especially when there is a witch to be hunted. Fortunately for Ireland, Mrs.qaa May is not a very clever witch, as evidenced by the abuse she receives in the Irish media: not fit for office; should resign; out of her depth – that sort of thing.

In terms of Irish distaste, she ranks somewhere between Oliver Cromwell and Margaret Thatcher and we have multiple assurances from various EU leaders that our collective opinion is accurate.

But history teaches that an overwhelming Irish majority view is usually wrong. So, you ask, where is the evidence that Mrs. May is not a witch?

Let us go back to the beginning. Theresa May is an arch-Tory who, like many senior party members, is what is known as a covert Eurofederalist – which means she secretly wants a United States of Europe. The popular Irish view that all Conservatives are little Englanders is just part of our 800 year-long failure to grasp the complexities of English politics and society.

The past fifty years illustrate that the Tory party represents the interests of big businesses, which export to other EU countries. That is why the Confederation of British Industry and a host of farming and other commercial interests supported the Tory remain campaign.

However, when she became prime minister, Mrs. May had to honor the Brexit referendum result. But she also wanted the softest version of Brexit, while trying not to split her party by alienating its lunatic fringe.

She called the 2017 general election to steer her planned soft Brexit through parliament, with an increased Tory majority. Her disastrous campaign meant that she has had to rely on the DUP instead, which has limited her ability to get her own way. Fortunately, she is blessed by an inept parliamentary opposition.

You might still regard the prime minister as stupid and maybe even worse, but if you compare what she set out to achieve with where she is now, you can see that she is largely on course. She now offers parliament two options: extend the UK’s membership of the EU for up to another four years, or support a modified form of her deal, which maintains trading and customs links with the EU. The alternative is a no-deal Brexit, although that is an unlikely outcome.

But, you say, if Mrs. May supports a single EU state, isn’t that exactly what EU leaders want? You are right, which explains why the EU has been so dogmatic in not changing its deal so as to retain close links with the UK.

And, you ask again, isn’t that what Leo Varadkar wants too? Right, again. So the war of words between Mrs. May and Ireland/Europe is not real, apart from some genuine skirmishes on the backstop agreement. All sides support big business, low tax regimes, free trade and a single EU state with its own flag, anthem, and army. But the Brexit referendum result makes the phony war necessary.

While it is perfectly reasonable to criticize Mrs. May’s principles, politics and some of her antics, it is too simplistic to explain her behavior as the erratic meanderings of an incapable woman.

Anyone who survives as British home secretary for six years is far from incapable. In any case, life teaches us that those not blessed with wonderful intellects tend to develop a compensatory cunning, which is often more valuable than brains. So while Mrs. May publicly supports the democratic Brexit referendum result, she is effectively serving the UK’s larger businesses, by seeking to maintain free trade routes into the EU.

Meanwhile back in Belfast, Irish euro-federalists (or maybe we might call them “euro-unionists”) have joined what they fail to recognize as a largely phony war, siding with Leo Varadkar, even though his policy on the EU differs little from Mrs. May’s. So they shout hurrah for Ireland as, like John Redmond’s “Irish” regiments in the British army, they march with Britain in the same direction and towards the same objective. Mrs. May has driven them to be even more euro-unionist.

That’s not a bad achievement for a stupid woman.