World Panorama with Cletus Akwaya, Ph.D
These are certainly not the best of times for British Prime Minister, Theresa May. Her Plans to garner more confidence and seats in the Parliament through a snap election to commence Brexit negotiations with the European Union went awry as her Conservative party lost its majority in the UK Parliament by as much as 10 seats. It was a twist of fate as May who targeted more seats ended up losing at the polls which held June 8. Her campaign was strong and she had calculated to ride on her popularity as most opinion polls suggested she would lead the Tories to a landslide victory. She was wrong.
May who took over from David Cameron in July 2016, had hoped to win more seats in the election which held in Britain’s 650 constituencies but ended up loosing some seats.
An elated Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party basking in the euphoria of his party’s improved performance at the polls immediately claimed victory saying by the unimpressive performance of the Tories, the British people had shown their preference for Labour. He then asked the Prime Minister to resign.”It is clear who won this election,” he told British Press while declaring Labour’s willingness to form government without going into a pact with any party.
Prime Minister May who visited the Buckingham Palace by about noon on June 9, made it clear she would not resign as demanded by Labour. Rather, she announced her intention to stay on the British top job and indeed form a new government.
In order to form a government, May began negotiations with the Democratic Union Party( DUP) of Ireland for a possible alliance. If the negotiations sail through, May might be traveling the same path her party did previously when it went into alliance with the Liberal Democrats to form a government headed by David Cameron, her predecessor.
The outcome of the polls seem to have complicated issues for May and the UK as far as Brexit negotiations are concerned. The negotiations scheduled to commence from June 19 appeared threatened as the new government was yet to be fully settled for the very important assignment.
At home however, Queen Elizabeth II presented eight bills to the British parliament that would pave way for the country’s exit from EU.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday presented eight draft laws to take Britain out of the European Union in a legislative programme read out in parliament by Queen Elizabeth II.
The bills include the “Great Repeal Bill” which hopes to overhaul existing EU legislation. The other bills centred on customs, trade, immigration, fisheries and agriculture.
“My government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union,” the queen said in the speech to the parliament.
She assured that her government would seek “to build the widest possible consensus on the country’s future outside the European Union”.
Since the elections, the UK has come under fierce criticisms from the EU members who were all set to engage May’s delegation in the negotiations.
The EU described the elections as “messy” in apparent show of anger with the turn of
Sweden’s former foreign minister Carl Bildt has described the poor result for the Conservatives as the “price to be paid for the lack of true leadership”.
Mr Bildt, who is now the co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said on Twitter that the outcome looked “messy”.
European Union’s Budget commissioner, Guenther Oettinger in his reaction expressed doubts if Britain’s negotiations could proceed on schedule.
Oettinger told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk broadcaster, a weak negotiating partner in Britain could result in a poor outcome.
Brexit negotiator in the European Parliament, Guy Verhoftstadt, described the Parliamentary vote an “own goal” saying it would make the exit process “even more complex.”
And from Britain’s traditional ally, the United States of America, President Donald Trump expressed “surprise” at the outcome of the polls but said he looked forward to working with Prime Minister May on shared values.
Inside the Conservative camp, May is not having it easy. Although she apologized to the defeated Tory candidates who lost their seats, it appears some hardliners in the party would mount a vigorous campaign against her with the view to getting her out of N0. 10 Downing Street. What happens exactly will be clearer in the weeks ahead as the defeated MPs settle down to the reality of being out of their jobs.
Another matter the Prime Minister would have to tackle is the lingering question of Scottish independence. Although the Scots lost the referendum in 2014 by 44.7 per cent against the “ No” votes of 55.3 per cent, they are keeping hope alive for another referendum sometime soon.
In fact, First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party( SNP), Nico Sturgeon has severally indicated that Scotland would seek to hold another referendum to determine its future. The agitation for Scottish independence which heightened in the aftermath of the Brexit vote is likely to continue in the weeks ahead. As the SNP appears bent on another independence referendum. And how the Prime Minister handles will depend pretty much on her influence over the parliament.
Unfortunately for May, the hung Parliament does not give her the comfort to decisively get things done. What this means is that the new government could be frustrated by the opposition from getting key decisions passed in parliament. And that could be disastrous for the administration both in the Brexit negotiations and in handling some critical domestic and international issues at a time the international system requires stabilizers like Britain to tackle emerging threats to world peace especially from the rascally behavior of countries like North Korea.
All said, the elections have come and gone and the whole World now Looks forward to how Prime Minister May will move with the new government to deliver on some if not all of her campaign promises.