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Saturday, 10 June 2017

Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves (5)

Since part 4 of this blog, I have been wondering about my earlier assessment of Mrs May. My reference to Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli seemed highly overrated. The outcome of the 8 June 2017 UK general election, a hung parliament, will however buy her time to exit Brexit.

A 'hung parliament" is the default situation in Dutch politics. The Dutch used to solve these situations through majority coalition governments and then through minority coalitions. As Johan Cruyff once said: "Every disadvantage has its advantage". A minority government is often unable to take controversial decisions (eg, Brexit).

FT, 9 June 2017: "Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage says the outcome of the general election means that “the whole Brexit process has very seriously been damaged”. Farage added: "The real worry I’ve got is that even David Davis was saying this morning that perhaps leaving the single market and the customs union will need to be reconsidered. Tory central office has concluded that campaigning for hard Brexit has cost them votes. I think that analysis is wrong."

Farage's fear is justified as damaging the Brexit process was and is part of Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves. She did not believe in Brexit and she still does not believe in it. She "just" needs to find her rather unique way for steering the UK out of immense trouble. The political chaos as of 9 June 2017 is helpful in not taking rash decisions.

Mrs May's real threat comes from Brussels. Mr Juncker's message played "good cop": “We are ready to start negotiations. I hope that the British will be able to form as soon as possible a stable government. I don’t think that things now have become easier but we are ready.” Mr Tusk's message played "bad cop": "We don’t know when Brexit talks start. We know when they must end. Do your best to avoid a ‘no deal’ as result of ‘no negotiations’."

As long as the UK sides with Trump's America First, the EU wants to cut the UK loose. Mrs Merkel's recent historic words made that clear: “The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days. We [Continental] Europeans must really take our destiny in our own hands. Of course we need to have friendly relations with the US and with the UK and with other neighbours, including Russia. But we have to fight for our own future ourselves.” (my 1 June 2017 blog).

On June 9, Mrs May announced that she wants to continue as a minority government with support from the Northern Irish DUP (FT, NYT). The DUP leader already stated: "No-one wants to see a ‘hard’ Brexit, what we want to see is a workable plan to leave the European Union []", and added that "no-one wants to see a hard border" with the Republic of Ireland. 

Mrs May's last-minute adding of a "dementia tax" in the Conservative manifesto, could either be seen as utter clumsiness or a highly skilled Machiavellian move. History will tell.

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Quote by Winston Churchill

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (1977) by Santa Esmeralda feat. Leroy Gómez