Britain set to have new Prime Minister

It looks as if Theresa May will become the new PM after her main opponent, Andrea Leadsom, dropped out of contention just a short while ago. I know very little about May, so British readers are invited to weigh in.

This is what she said today. as reported by CNN:

“Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it. There will be no attempts to remain inside the EU. No attempts to rejoin it by the back door. No second referendum. The country voted to leave the European Union and as prime minister, I will make sure we leave the European Union,” she said.

To paraphrase Dickens: God help us, every one.



  1. Geoff Toscano
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I hope I’m wrong but I have a horrible feeling that in a few years time we may look back on the decision to leave and view it the way we now view the invasion of Iraq; how could we have been so stupid?!

    I really hope that May’s words about not looking for a way to avoid the exit vote are just that, words. I see no reason why a second referendum on the terms of the exit deal could not be considered. Although there are still many, probably most, leave voters digging their heals in, the fact is that the mood of the country has changed, and that has to be taken into account as we move forward.

    • Dave
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Geoff, I’d be interested to know the details of your National Mood Detector – how does it work exactly?

      Your fears about how we’ll one day look back on the referendum decision may be justified, or not – only time will tell. I prefer to think that we’ll look back on it as the best decision the British people have made in the post-war era, reversing the 40-year con trick that we fell for in 1975.

      • ChrisH
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        Serious question: What, in detail, are the positives you take from leaving the EU?

        I can think of a number theoretically, but they are somewhat outweighed by the advantages of staying, without considering the absolute nightmare of the disconnection process.

        Also, for me, the sovereignty aka “faceless unelected officials” issue doesn’t fly (as we have plenty of those in the UK already).

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

          What, in detail, are the positives you take from leaving the EU?

          The fact that Parliament can then pass laws in line with what the British people want, as opposed to being told “no, you can’t do that, it’s against EU rules”.

          • Leo
            Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

            Well, you’ll be able to reintroduce the death penalty. Is that what you mean?

            You’ll still not be able to pass, say, whatever copyright legislation you want. Or are you going to denounce the Berne convention too?

            • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

              For example, we could pass a rule that new migrants to the country who don’t have a job are not eligible for welfare-state benefits until after some qualification period.

              We could decide that people only get child-support benefits if the children lived in this country.

              We could decide that taxpayer-funded student loans offered to 18-yr-olds in this country do not have to be offered on same terms to any teenager in the EU.

              Et cetera,

              • somer
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:37 am | Permalink

                admit that sounds fair enough

              • somer
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:45 am | Permalink

                But Britain seems to have done pretty well from the EU

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

                Maybe so, but we don’t know how well or how badly we’d have done without them. (Staying out of the euro zone seems to have been very prudent, however. Thanks, Gordon.)


              • friendlypig
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:16 am | Permalink

                Somer, Really? how does that work?

                We lose sovereignty and pay for the privilege!

              • macha
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

                example, we could pass a rule that new migrants to the country who don’t have a job are not eligible for welfare-state benefits until after some qualification period.

                … but that’s the case now

                We could decide that people only get child-support benefits if the children lived in this country.

                … we could do that now, France does

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

            + 1

      • Geoff Toscano
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        How do I detect the public mood?

        Well it’s, of course, subjective but I think what’s telling is how embarrassed people I know are to admit they voted leave. And they are right to be because the headline claims that effectively influenced the vote that £350m per week is paid to the EU, together with unbridled immigration, especially from Turkey, have been shown to be out and out lies. The xenophobic response by so many seems also to suggest that ‘mood’ is important.

        I really, truly, have not seen a legitimate case for exit satisfactorily articulated.

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          From my quick view, it seems that the pro-Leave voters were concerned most with the unbridled immigration from poor EU members such as my country. And, while I may feel a little offended that people like me are not wanted somewhere, I acknowledge the right of the host population not to want us.

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

            It’s not so much that people such as yourself are not wanted (plenty of people see the advantages in some immigration from the Eastern EU), it’s the fact that the UK had no control at all over the terms of such immigration that annoyed the Brexiters. If the EU had allowed the UK some degree of control over immigration, then “Remain” would have won. But the EU refused to offer Cameron any significant compromise.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

              Is immigration really that bad? On a population basis, NZ currently has four times the immigration the UK does. I bet most people don’t even notice it and just voted on a few negative anecdotes. Since the areas that get the least immigration were the most likely to vote to leave, I think my supposition holds.

              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

                I wouldn’t want to use the word “bad”, but immigration is indeed significant. Foreign-citizens and foreign-born citizens now total 22%, up from 11% in 20 years. In London 1-in-3 residents was born outside the UK.

                But, again, it’s not so much immigration itself, it’s the lack of control over it. Many Brexiters voted that way out of a sense that they’ve never been given any say (either by the EU or indeed by UK governments) over whether they approve of it or not, and that the EU simply didn’t care what they thought about it.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

                But London voted to remain, so they don’t seem to have an issue.

              • Nick
                Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

                No, the areas where immigrants actually live in larger numbers seem less concerned than those where they don’t.

                The Office of National Statistics gives the actual figures at around 13% of the population of England and Wales (so the total for the UK as a whole will be a little lower, given lower proportions in Scotland and NI). see

                Of those 13%, just under 5% are from other EU countries – including the Irish, whose right to live in the UK long predates our joining the EEC. The other 8% are from outside the EU, mainly India and Pakistan.

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 3:44 am | Permalink

                But London voted to remain, so they don’t seem to have an issue.

                40% of London voted to Leave. The entire country was split. (And, of course, significant numbers of London voters were themselves immigrants.)

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                And 60% voted to remain. How small does the percentage have to be before you stop thinking it makes your point?

                I’ve acknowledged both on your blog and mine that there are points in leaves favour, but immigration isn’t one of them. Despite that it’s the reason that inspired many votes and I can’t help thinking a lot of them came from bigots. The facts just don’t support the anti-immigration case.

            • P. Puk
              Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

              Ermmmm. Bollocks. Most EU countries exercised the option in 2004 to NOT allow unfettered access to A8 Eastern Europeans as was their SOVEREIGN right.

              With the exception of the UK, Ireland and Sweden, all other pre-2004 EU member states decided to temporarily restrict labour market access to migrants from the A8 countries upon their accession to the EU in 2004. This was possible because the accession agreements allowed member states of the EU to impose restrictions on the immigration of citizens from the new member countries for a maximum of seven years


              So, another Brexiteer lie laid to waste. As someone mentioned above, I have yet to discover a SINGLE decent reason for Brexit. Never mind that every single gripe that Brexiteers have can be laid firmly at the feet of Westminster, the self-inflicted destruction of a modern country flabbers my gast.

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:51 am | Permalink

                You have overlooked the word “temporary”. But more to the point, you’re right that a lot of this was down to Westminster. The Brexit vote was as much anti-Westminster as anti-EU, since the five biggest Westminster parties all supported Remain. The fact is that many Brexiters voted that way because they felt that *they* were being given no say over things like immigration.

    • Dominic
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      You only have to look at the forthcoming Italian referendum to see that this is not an exclusively British, or ‘little englanderish’ (deliberate lower case!) issue…

      • Alexander
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        I believe it was the introduction of the Euro in 2002 (I think) that is now causing the big problems in the EU. The Euro forced all the different economies, which were quite different ones, based on different models, to function according the mainly German model: an economy based on a strong manufacturing and saving tradition. For example, the food industry in Southern Italy was completely local–everything was grown locally and consumed locally, Greece was the same way. This functioned well, until the introduction, or better, imposition, of a global economy model, which ruined everything.

        You see the effects of this kind of economy in the US: for example, most of the vegetables come from California, and most of the states across the US don’t can produce their own local vegetables economically. The absurdity of this approach became clear to me when I spent, many years ago, some time in Florida. We were staying close to an orange plantation, and we asked to buy a few oranges from them. No, no, this was not possible, all the oranges had to be shipped to Pennsylvania, packaged there, and then come back, and then we could buy them. Completely bonkers, absurd. This is what is ruining the local food economies in Europe now.

        • tubby
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          It’s not really the ‘globalist’ economy that meant there weren’t oranges for sale. The harvest had already been bought before you ever arrived, perhaps even years in advance. It doesn’t need to go to Pennsylvania to be packaged because of some arcane trade agreement. That’s where the distributor who bought the harvest, paying the farmer’s bills, packs and distributes the fruit from.

          • Alexander
            Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

            Well yes, this (buying everything before it is even grown) is just what ruins local economies. Entire coffee productions were (are) bought in advance by capital-rich organisations in African countries, leaving the producers no choice in pricing their products, an sell it at starvation rates. This is the black and criminal side of run-away capitalism.

            • tubby
              Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

              The land is expensive and farming is a gamble, so the farmer stays in business because he has a guaranteed sale every year and continuous income. He gets to keep his people on the payroll, and the distributor can make sure people in Minnesota have seasonal oranges. Neither of them get wiped out by too many bad harvests. You were looking in the wrong place at probably the wrong time of year to find what you wanted in the US.

              Buy your coffee from better distributors or coffee co-ops if you want to help the farmers.

        • harrync
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Come to WNC [= western North Carolina.] Plenty of local fruit – though the peaches do have to make about a 40 mile trip from SC to get here to Hendersonville. Even the chain grocery stores highlight their locally grown veggies. And come Labor Day weekend, we’ll close down Main Street so the local commercial apple growers can come to town and sell directly to us.

    • somer
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Maybe a rerun referendum would be too divisive and there would be calls for endless reruns, though given its such an important issue and voting is not compulsory in UK, it does make sense to have a minimum 60% vote on such matters. The reruns in Ireland and Denmark were on the terms of the Maastricht or Lisbon treaties of the EU, not membership itself. The other problem is apparently Britain has to actually get out before it can renegotiate terms of membership unless it is prepared to do a Norway type arrangement – that is pay a fee annually to get the trade benefits and sign up to the common border/migration arrangements of the EU whilst staying out of the Eurozone – which is no different from existing membership terms, in fact presumably slightly worse as a fee has to be paid.

      • Dominic
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Requiring a 60% majority is fine but then why not require that for a general election? We would have to have proportional representation to reflect the true make up of opinion…

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          I would love to see PR in the general election.

          Sadly – and maybe ironically – the 2011 referendum decisively rejected “alternative voting”.


    • scottoest
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      I think it would be absurd to have a do-over referendum, simply because some people are having second thoughts about their vote.

      The UK had a referendum; they gave people MONTHS to do their research, form an opinion, and otherwise do their civic duty. Then they went and voted, and one side won.

      Now people are trying to toss that result out because it’s “only advisory”, or because news networks are interviewing people who are regretting their original vote, or simply because some people are essentially declaring that voters made “the wrong choice”.

      I think leaving the EU is a terrible move, but I also respect the essence of democracy enough, to think that the politicians should honour the result of the vote about it. And you can be sure that “Remain” folks would be saying the same thing today, if their side had won and the Leavers were the ones calling for a do-over.

      And no, referendums don’t typically require supermajorities, unless you’re doing something like amending the constitution. Canada had a referendum about Quebec LEAVING THE COUNTRY, and that was a simple majority vote.

      The UK voted in the guy who said he would be calling the referendum, and then they voted on the proposition presented to them. It may have been messy, and the result may have been absurd, but it was democracy.

      And maybe next time their country votes on something of vital importance, more people will actually take the time to either a) vote, or b) spend five minutes learning about the implications of what they are voting on.

      • David Harrison
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        Please don’t bring Canada in as an argument in favour of a simple majority on this. Yes, there were two Quebec referenda decided on such a basis, but as a result of these, we now have federal legislation that says the federal government cannot negotiate Quebec separation except on a clear question with a clear majority in favour, with a “clear majority” to be determined by the House of Commons. Further, the Supreme Court has stated that succession of a province would only be legal after negotiations between that province and the federal government after a clear majority voted in favour.

        If we ever have another such referendum, I’m sure things will be complicated – it’s been reported on multiple times in Canadian media that the Brexit situation is a view of the chaos we narrowly avoided in 1995 – but let’s not claim that Canadian law clearly accepts a simple majority for breaking up the country. It does not.

        • scottoest
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          At no point did I declare that Canadian law clearly accepts a simple majority for referenda – I deflated the idea that a 60% threshold is commonplace. Some ex post-facto Canadian legal changes to pretend we were never on the verge of losing Quebec, does nothing to change that.

          The referendum in the UK said nothing about a specific threshold, and trying to usurp the popular vote by declaring after the fact that the win wasn’t big enough, is anti-democratic.

          It’s also an argument the “Remain” side absolutely wouldn’t be making right now, if they were on the winning team. They wouldn’t be griping about the “Remain” mandate not being clear enough – they’d be breathing a sigh of relief that they averted disaster.

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        + 1

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      “How could we have been so stupid?!”

      People – including me – often say this, looking back. However, while I am not a determinist, I think the correct decision would be likely to be chosen only with the possession of information or skills that are available now but were absent at the moment.

      What is clear is that millions of Britons have just said “How could we have been so stupid?”, referring to the decision to join the EU (or, rather, its precursor) decades ago.

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Not a determinist! tch tch. It is practically required on this site.

        How could Britain have been so stupid (to join)? The years Britain was in the EU are the most prosperous of the post-war era. Before EU, British growth was the worst in the G7. After EU it has been the best.

        I am confounded that the British people were willing to risk this prosperity, but they have spoken. The moving finger writes…

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Actually, I am dumbfounded. Or maybe both.

        • scottoest
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          Exactly. I think it was an awful decision, but it was their decision to make. Their politicians presented the question to them, and the people answered.

          Folks should have enough respect for democracy to accept the outcome. You can bet the Remain side would be demanding this, had they won.

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

            But the politicians are not slaves to the electorate!

            Per Edmund Burke, the political theorist, what your MP owes you is:

            not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion

            (Quoted in the the Big Green Button Bill link I posted elsewhere.)


            • scottoest
              Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

              But surely this would not apply in a referendum, when the government is *literally* going to the people, specifically to request their opinion!

              In a representative democracy, I otherwise completely agree with Burke that elected politicians should follow their own better judgment – not just slavishly modify their beliefs according to opinion polls. I think referendums should be saved for incredibly rare occasions.

              Once the decision to go to the people has been made, they should respect their decision. I think a case could be made here that Cameron should have never offered up a referendum on this question in the first place, but he did, and they own the result.

              I think it’s anti-democratic to declare the results meaningless after the fact, simply because the elected elites didn’t like the answer they got, to the question *they* asked.

              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

                I disagree, for what was an advisory referendum. Do you always follow the advice you solicit or do you make your own judgement taking everything else you know into account?


            • Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

              It seems to me if Parliament wants to overide the will of the people as expressed in a referendum, it would need to call an election on it. Otherwise, what is the point of a referendum?

              A gutsy PM would say I am not pulling out of the EU because it is not in the best interest of the British people, and I am willing to call an election on this so if you think I am am wrong you can throw me out.

              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

                Will of the people or advice of the people?

                It might come to that one way or another.


              • scottoest
                Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

                I agree wholeheartedly. I think the sudden emphasis on the fact that the referendum was legally non-binding, is people desperately trying to find a way out of a bad decision via technicalities.

                There’s a reason the global markets freaked out after the vote, and it isn’t because it was only presented as “advisory’.

                Yes, legally they could ignore the will of the people as expressed through the referendum. Realistically? No they can’t. The EU knows it. The politicians know it. I think even the “Remain” side know it, hence the popular push for another referendum instead.

                Cameron was foolish to offer the referendum in the first place, as raw meat to a factor of his base, and it backfired miserably on him. Now anyone who ignores it looks like they are spitting in the face of 52% of the electorate.

                I think the best hope for the Remain side, is that the “Brexit” gets stuck in limbo for years, as politicians drag their feet on actually executing it, until a Prime Minister gets elected on a staunchly “Remain” platform.

              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

                Actually, less than 38% of the electorate.


              • scottoest
                Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

                Assuming the people who didn’t bother turning out to vote would have given a majority to the Remain side (and I don’t know how or why we would offer such a charitable extrapolation), they only have themselves to blame then.

                So sure – 38% of the electorate, and the Remain side got less than that. The rest functionally abstained, so they refused their say on the question.

                52% of the people who actually showed up to be heard, voted to leave. Unless they are going to make voting a legal responsibility, that’s the only number that matter. And there’s nothing to say that 100% turnout wouldn’t have simply widened their victory.

                Can the government ignore them? Technically, sure. But they won’t, and with extremely good reason.

              • scottoest
                Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

                Politicians largely don’t care about the will of the people who can’t be bothered to actually vote – ask the Republicans about it some time, as they continue to ignore younger (more liberal) voters, who also reliably don’t bother voting.

          • Nick
            Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

            Though, to be fair, many of the Leave campaigners calling for the outcome to be respected had been doing nothing but call for a re-run since they lost the first referendum in the 1970s.

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          “Not a determinist! tch tch. It is practically required on this site.”

          My impression also! I am surprised how easily feelings escalate on this issue – it almost rivals the toilet paper position.

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

            As a determinist, I know that which way the toilet paper is rolling was determined by the initial conditions of the big bang, so I don’t worry about it. 🙂

  2. Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I didn’t think I’d want Cameron back as PM… May is anti-ECHR, for one thing. But at least she’s not Leadsom.

    I think she’s overreaching when she says, “Brexit means Brexit.” Prudent legal opinion seems to be that, since the referendum was only advisory, the result needs to be ratified by Parliament before the UK can invoke Article 50.

    But maybe May knows this and is just courting the Euro-sceptics within the Conservative party.


    • David Duncan
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      If the UK had voted Remain 52-48 would that result have been “advisory”? If parliamnt then voted Leave there would be hell to pay.

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        The referendum was set up as advisory and not legally binding from the beginning.

        Legally binding referenda typically need a 60% majority or 40% of the population to change the status quo.


        • David Duncan
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

          If a/the referendum was only advisory and resulted in a Remain vote would it be okay for parliament to vote Leave?

          “Legally binding referenda typically need a 60% majority…”

          Where? When?

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

            Why not? Parliament has had the right to vote to leave the EU at any time, referendum or not.

            And see Aidan O’Neill QC quoted in the Guardian.


            • Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

              That letter is political rather than legal. Plenty of lawyers say that a Parliamentary vote is not necessary, but could simply be triggered by the government. There is nothing in our constitution or the EU constitution that demands a Parliamentary vote.

              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

                Article 50 specifically says that the decision must be in accordance with the member state’s constitution.

                Which is precisely where we run into trouble. There’s nothing that says that this *can* be triggered by the government. It’s not at all clear that *that* would be “constitutional”.

                See David Allen Green (Jack of Kent) on this:

                It remains to be seen what the legal position “really” is — but I’m not sure that it will be carried by which side has the most lawyers.


              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

                The “Jack of Kent” is actually pretty clear that the government can just trigger Article 50, without any vote in Parliament. E.g.:

                “Any of these would be a decision for the purposes of Article 50(1). And each would be decision it would be fair and plausible to say is “in accordance with [UK’s] own constitutional requirements” […]”

                “Without such a helpful provision, one can only look at how formal decisions can be made by those with political power in the UK, and the five examples set out above seem to all meet the Article 50(1) wording …”

                “It was not even a decision to enter a new international treaty but to exercise a power within an existing one; in other words, it is the sort of decision a Prime Minister can usually make.”

              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

                Yes, that is a possibility. JOK is just laying out the options.

                But I’ve seen several legal opinions advocating the necessity of decision by parliament; none to the contrary. Maybe that’s just an availability heuristic – if, as you say, “plenty of lawyers” say it’s not necessary.


              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

                The Big Green Button Bill


  3. jennyah46
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    We will be OK. We always are, we muddle through. When are you coming to see us again? Looking forward to hearing more about those cherry pies and of course the Polish Princess!

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      “Carry on buggering on!”


      • Dominic
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        “the gods are doomed and the end is death”!

  4. somer
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    The Tory recruitment pool is pretty turgid to say the least. Thank Goodness Johnson and Gove are gone and it isn’t uber religious (and budget cutting) Great Mother Andrea Leadsom either. Theresa seems the least bad of the options but still not very attractive. She is perfectly happy to have Islamic clerics presiding over a committee to discuss whether Britain should have sharia family courts. The Sharia courts may not be legally binding but if women don’t know the British secular option or are pressured by their community to take the religious option to be accepted it makes no difference. Islamic family law makes female initiated divorce extremely rare, gives much reduced inheritance to wife and girls, gives husband authority over the wife … and on and on.

    but wait theres more!

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      i think many politicians might think it awkward to take a robust approach to this given the post-Brexit increase in anti-immigrant sentiments.


      • somer
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        I don’t think this has anything to do with immigration – its got to do with excessive deference to religion. And if its a sensitive time, why not defer the matter.

        • somer
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:10 am | Permalink

          One thing to be racist another thing to not accept imported medieval law because political correctness makes you afraid to insult anyone.

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

            Oh, it is. But I think that the “racism” issue weighs more heavily with the politicians at the moment.


            • Leigh Jackson
              Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:15 am | Permalink

              Quite so.

              Leadsom as Prime Minister would have been like an unelected Donald Trump as President – possibly worse.

  5. Damien McLeod
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Hopefully the Brits will come to their senses and toss the Tory bum(s) out on their collective ears.

    • Dave
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      In exchange for what? Comrade Corbyn and his merry gang of student union Trots? No thanks!

      You’ll have to wait until 2020 for the next general election, at which I hope and expect the Conservatives to be returned with a greatly increased majority.

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        Not necessarily. A vote of no confidence in the government (does May have a popular mandate?) could force an early election.


        • David Duncan
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:50 am | Permalink

          “does May have a popular mandate?”

          Does it matter? Like ’em or not the Tories have a popular mandate. Or would you prefer that dinosaur Corbyn?

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

            Of course it matters! Even if a May-led government were reinstated.


            • David Duncan
              Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

              There are changes of leader in many Westminster systems without the new leader being forced, or even advised to call a new election. For example the exit of Tony Blair in the UK, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott in Australia, etc. etc. In 1941 the Menzies conservative government in Australia fell, to be replaced by a Labor led government when two independent MPs switched sides. There was not a fresh election to ratify this choice.

              In non-Westminster systems the transition from Nixon to Ford is another counterexample to your claim. Ford was not elected Vice President in 1972 and yet became President.

              • Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

                But the Blair → Brown transition wasn’t in such turbulent times.


          • Robert Saunders
            Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

            The Tories’ ‘popular mandate’ saw them attract votes from 24% of the electorate.
            The referendum saw 37.5% of the electorate vote to leave the EU. All the leading Brexiteers have how exited the stage leaving the pro-Remain politicians to clear up the mess that will happen.

          • Nick
            Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            The Tories won a mandate to implement a manifesto which assumed being an EU member state. None of the parties at the last election said anything in their manifestos about the terms that they would seek in our new relationship with the EU. That is now the main issue affecting this country, so it’s only right for the different parties to put their propositions before the electorate to get a mandate to enter negotiations with our former partners.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Only if the Labour Party comes to its senses!


      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        No sign of that, Ant. Labour has just sent out 2 press releases within 6 minutes of each other, one calling for a general election and one announcing a leadership contest. here comes the stupid again.

  6. Dominic
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Well Leadsom is a praying christian – I mean the serious, Tony B-liar sort, so that is one plus. Or non-minus. May has been around for a while… I would guess little change…?

    Reports that the world is about to end because of the break-up of the UK are still premature. There are far bigger things going on in my view, that are contributing to the decline of the world as we knew it in the post WW2 settlemen: Super-mechanisation/roboticisation of jobs across the world; related to that the decline of the middle classes (who always lead revolutions you will recall); a growing wealth gap; the rising population; Global Warming… etc etc.

    I just hope this is the death of TTIP, but I somehow think May will still sign up for that, to stay on the good side of the US, even if that will mean the death of the NHS.

    Have you read Sapiens by Yuval Harari? I should have suggested that as a book for your summer reading… his newest book out this autumn will develop the theme – Mankind as God

  7. ChrisH
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    It’s depressing when Theresa “Darth Vader” May was the sensible option in the Tory leadership contest.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” *breathing*


      • Dominic
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        Use the farce!

    • Kevin
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      You do know about US politics?

      My theory is humans have now evolved to want the least amount of scientifically enforced statements made by politicians. Maybe it is because politics and religion are the last places where science is not allowed and people need to believe that life can be better without actually doing anything.

  8. Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I know very little about May, so British readers are invited to weigh in.

    “Steady pair of hands” would sum it up. She actually advocated “Remain” in the referendum, in a keeping-her-head-down sort of way. She’s now advocating Brexit to unite the Tory party behind her.

    Note that just about everything said by the British PM or by EU leaders at the moment will be a tactical negotiating position rather than what they might settle for.

    I don’t think that Brexit (in whatever variant it occurs, if it does) will be the disaster the doomsters predict, and May is as decent a choice as any to steer the ship in current rather choppy waters.

  9. jimroberts
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink


  10. Reggie Cormack
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that this (Euro referendum) is another of these situations where if people didn’t get the result the wanted and expected they jump up and down accusing the winning side of cheating/being thick/not understanding the issues. I for one would feel pretty darned insulted by this and their clamor for a second referendum. It was the same with the Scotland referendum of 2014. Shrill cries of not fair we want another vote. Well, I think this is democracy in action, for better or worse, so grow up and deal with a result where the minority lost.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      I don’t think the winning campaign in the Scottish referendum was quite as deceitful as the “Leave” campaign was.


      • Reggie Cormack
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        You’re absolutely right, but none the less the inability to accept the result and reaction was depressing similar to seeing a toddler throw its toys oot the pram. Sad to say that it wasn’t, isn’t and likely never is about the “best” for a nation it’s the usual politician power-mongering.

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        I don’t think the winning campaign in the Scottish referendum was quite as deceitful as the “Leave” campaign was.

        … nor as deceitful as the “Remain” campaign. (If you can call nothing but ludicrous scaremongering a “campaign”.)

        • Reggie Cormack
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          Both campaigns were pretty poor but I’m sure most adults can cut through the crap and see what the issues are. We’ve had a result, why can’t the losers – there had to be a losing side – man-up (person-up?) and just admit that the result didn’t go their way. All this shouting for another referendum seems pretty immature. And to say that the Leave voters didn’t understand the issues or will change their minds in another referendum is just insulting.

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

            « I’m sure most adults can cut through the crap and see what the issues are »

            I’m not yet convinced about that.


            • Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

              PS. Given that most politicians have been unable to state clearly (a) what the issues are and (b) what leaving actually entails.


        • Nick
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:48 am | Permalink

          Nothing on the Remain side matched the £350m lie, the Spend it on the NHS lie, the Turkey’s About to Join lie, or the Independent Experts Are Only Saying This Because They’re Paid by the EU lie.

  11. David Harper
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Theresa May is on record as saying that the rights of EU citizens living in Britain should be used as leverage on Brexit negotiations:

    I’m sure Donald Trump will be cheering her on. It’s the kind of despicable thing that he would do.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Theresa May is on record as saying that the rights of EU citizens living in Britain should be used as leverage on Brexit negotiations:

      Well that’s not quite what she said. But the EU are stating a very hard line about negotiations, so it’s understandable that May doesn’t want to concede anything one-sidedly.

      • Nick
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Agreed: it would be foolish of her to concede this without securing equivalent rights for the British citizens living in the EU in return.

  12. Frank Bath
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I am an English Brexiter. I am a proud European and I love my country. We can do this, take the pain and come through with our democracy intact. The miserablists must wish their country well not ill, take heart and help see we make it.

    • David Harper
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      No, we who voted “Remain” do not have to accept the referendum result in silence. I refer the honourable gentleman to the comments by Ian Hislop on a recent edition of Question Time:

      • Frank Bath
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        I’m not going to argue with Hislop, David, because I’m not asking anyone to stop making their argument, but the ship has left port and now the whole crew have to make sure we get to where we have agreed to go, mutter under their breath though they may.

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          The passengers have decided. The captain doesn’t *have to* abide by their decision.


          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            Said Captain Bligh.

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

            I disagree here. I think that, in a democracy, voters are sovereign. And even using your ship analogy, if I vote to travel to Odessa (by buying the appropriate ticket), I feel that the captain has to abide by my decision and drop me and my fellow passengers in Odessa and not e.g. in Istanbul.

            • Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

              No; that’s one of the benefits of a parliamentary democracy.

              If every decision were left to a plebiscite, where would that leave minorities?

              The analogy breaks down; since the referendum was only advisory, no-one holds a “ticket”.


              • Leigh Jackson
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink


            • Nick
              Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

              Unfortunately, in this case, the passengers haven’t voted for any specific destination; simply that the ship should set sail.

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 12:46 am | Permalink

                Or that it should anchor in international waters but still with some kind of tender service to the port.


      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink


  13. Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Well, in these 2 months of living stupidly, May gets the job on the basis that she is the only adult left standing. In this era of Johnson, Trump and Corbyn the bar is set so low when it comes to political leaders that May appears stateswomanlike by comparison.

    She is, I think, the longest serving Home Secretary ever. She has a low media profile but a reputation for efficiency and getting things done. That is her appeal at the moment.

    She has just appointed an inquiry into the role of sharia courts in the UK. Good news? Not so much. A professor of Islamic Studies, Mona Siddiqui, has been nominated as chair. Maryam Namazie is on the case.

    Remember the referendum when Leave campaigners argued that we did not want to be ruled by an unelected clique in Brussels? We now face the prospect of having a new PM, perhaps by the end of this week, who was appointed by about 190 Tory MPs. The moral case for her to call a general election is strong but I guess it isn’t the most important factor in her decision whether to call one.

    As Brits have watched horrified at the circus of Trumpian politics across the pond and Yanks have stared equally bemused at the outbreak of yah-booism in the UK, and at the collapse of Tory party discipline into Poujadist demagoguery, still…still the Tories have a solid lead in the opinion polls. Angela Eagle is bucking the zeitgeist by continuing to stand for party leader of Labour and I suspect that the LP may break into two. Corbyn may be called back to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Home Affairs as 2 members think he misled them during his evidence on anti-Semitism in the LP.

    The atmosphere in the country on the weekend after the EU referendum campaign was febrile: we are in a period when it is one level below that.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I don’t think the moral case for an immediate General Election is strong since the Conservatives manifesto at the last GE was to have a Referendum and act on the resultant advice – and the Conservatives won an overall majority.

      There’s a stronger case for having a General Election to endorse whatever Brexit arrangements are negotiated, although the process will likely take us up (and beyond) the next ‘regular’ GE.

      There are other political considerations – an ‘early’ GE might catch the other parties unprepared, especially Labour and the general public might punish any party that that was seen to be exploiting the situation for mere party political gain.

  14. Robert Neely
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the various candidates and former candidates, the memory of censorship and media distortion will linger for some:

  15. Mike
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    She’s an accommodationist of Sharia.

  16. somer
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I think the whole Brexit thing is a disaster and its irritating that a large section of the Tory party agitated for so long and loud to get (with Farage’s help) this outcome.

    • Dave
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      All their “agitation” would have counted for nothing if there hadn’t been a widespread popular desire to see Britain leave the EU. When the matter was finally put to a democratic vote, guess what: it turns out that the people who want to leave were actually in the majority. You may deplore the result, but it’s democracy in action.

    • colnago80
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Richard Dawkins take on the Brexit.

      Are you an Inny or an Outy? A Keeper or a Brexiteer?”

      “Well, at first I wanted to leave, to punish David Cameron. But then Boris came out as a leaver and I can’t stand his hair so I’ll be voting to stay in Europe.”
      That is approximately the level of discourse which will momentously decide Britain’s future.
      My own answer to the question is, “How should I know? I don’t have a degree in economics. Or history. How dare you entrust such an important decision to ignoramuses like me?”
      I, and most other people, don’t have the time or the experience to do our due diligence on the highly complex economic and social issues facing our country in, or out of, Europe. That’s why we vote for our Member of Parliament, who is paid a good salary to debate such matters on our behalf, and vote on them. The European Union referendum, like the one on Scottish independence, should never have been called.

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I disagree with Dawkins on this, since our MPs are not experts on the matter either Really, the only thing they’re expert at is kissing babies and getting elected.

  17. Billy Bl.
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Globalisation is inherently bad. Tribalism is the way of the future.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      I have forgotten what that figure of speech is called.

  18. Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Interesting comments.

    Every time I start reading about British politics, tho, I have to go look up and remind myself what Tory means.

    Sounds like May is saying, “You asked for it and now you are going to get it.”

    As for good reasons for Brexit, there are some. Ken Loach has it right when he says:

    “On the one hand the EU is a neo-liberal project, a drive towards privatization, a drive to deregulate the safeguards that are there for workers.”

    Decision-making in the EU is largely undemocratic.

    I shudder when I think what a trio would be made by Theresa, Hilary and Angela.

  19. Merilee
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink


  20. Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    She can’t lose. If it all goes wrong, she can say she was on the other side all along. If it turns out alright, she’s a hero.

    She’s no better than Boris – putting personal ambition about trying to do what’s best for the country.

  21. Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Honestly, I don’t understand why the heels in the sand are dug in so intrenchedly on the no-revote-of-the-Referendum. If it truly wasn’t legally binding, why are most acting like helpless bystanders about it, and more so, why are the politicians acting as if it were irrefutable?

    Adding to this conceptual angst, I’m moving to Bristol at the end of September. Bad Brexit makes an already anemic science-funding climate more so.

  22. docbill1351
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    It can’t go right. No way. Just like Trump trying to drag America back to 1956. That world doesn’t exist. Trump wants to bring back “good, manufacturing jobs.” Why? Who wants to work in a stinking factory?

    Britain can’t go back, it has to go forward and stay in the EU and solve its problems in that environment. Leaving the EU won’t address Britain’s economy in any positive way.

    It’s like me replacing my windows with double glazing. Sure, I’ll save money on energy, but that “investment” won’t break even for 200 years. What’s the point?

  23. peepuk
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I really like British Politics.

    Wasn’t the backstabbing of Boris Johnson by Gove plotted by Cameron/May? As far as I know Gove was a friend of Cameron/Osborne.

    It would be brilliant.

    I have some quotes from wikipedia to prove it:

    Describing her as a liberal conservative, the Financial Times characterised May as a “non-ideological politician with a ruthless streak who gets on with the job”, in doing so comparing her to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    In The Independent Rebecca Glover of the Policy Innovation Research Unit contrasted May to Boris Johnson, claiming that she was “staunchly more conservative, more anti-immigration, and more isolationist” than he.

    May supported the UK remaining in the EU during the 2016 referendum campaign, but did not campaign extensively in the referendum and criticised aspects of the EU in a speech.It was speculated by political journalists that May had sought to minimise her involvement in the debate to strengthen her position as a future candidate for the Conservative party leadership.


  24. Tom
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Theresa May is tough, very tough. The country needs a period of stability whoever is PM and neither Mr Gove or Mrs Leadsam or (perish the thought) Boris Johnson could really hope to do that.
    If she selects a competent Home Secretary and keeps George Osborne as Chancellor things should cool down fairly rapidly and as the Holiday season also begins this month thoughts other than politics will be on the nations collective mind.

  25. Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    At least, there was a nastier alternative to Ms. May that was avoided.

    “In the wake of the successful vote for Britain’s exit from the European Union, Prime Minister David Cameron resigned to be replaced by the leader of the Conservative Party. Two women were vying for the leadership, Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom… In a breathtaking display of pure cruelty, Leadsom was quoted in The Times of London as claiming that rival Theresa May’s infertility disqualified her from leading the UK… “I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake,” she said in the article, which was published as a front-page lead and headlined “Being a mother gives me edge on May — Leadsom.””

  26. EBGB
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    The referendum was lost by Remain more than it was won by Leave. One side, led by the establishment, sought to rely on fear, ignored reasonable public unease about mass immigration and completely failed to explain the benefits of EU membership. In fact, I have yet to hear anyone explain the benefits of EU membership other than by saying “you’ll be sorry when it’s gone”. I have been shipping goods to Europe for over 40 years and little has changed. The EU still sells far more to us than we sell to the EU. Brits were able to travel to, and work in, Europe before the ‘free movement of labour’, nation states collaborated freely on police and security matters – all without the need to pay £350 million (gross!) each week to a centralized, unelected bureaucracy, so that it could give some of it back to us at some future time, when we applied for it.

    • Nick
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      The £350m is a “gross” figure in the same way that the money you don’t pay in tax is part of your gross tax bill.

      • EBGB
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        The amount the UK pays is not a taxable salary but an up front membership fee. Any negotiated rebate or payment of funding is applied for and paid to the UK at a later date. Talk about off-setting as much as you like, but the membership fee still has to be firstly paid out without deductions – and I’m still waiting for an itemized list of the benefits of EU membership.

        • Nick
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          That’s simply not right. The rebate is calculated automatically and deducted from the payment when the UK makes it (albeit technically the rebate for year x is deducted from the payment for year x+1). No money transfers from the Commission to the UK for the rebate.

          Don’t think of it as salary, but as an allowance that reduces your tax bill.

  27. friendlypig
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    I agree. In 1975 I voted to transfer our membership from the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) to the European Economic Community (EEC), a larger area with more countries and more customers. Since that date the EEC has morphed through various stages into the European Union, the next stage of the political union that was always planned by the European elite, the present day European Commission, Jean-claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, von Rompuy etc. Bureaucrats who are not answerable to the people of Europe.

    Successive governments have gifted our sovereignty to the EU. This referendum was probably the last chance to take back the right of this sovereign country to manage its own affairs. To make its own laws without let or hindrance. To control those who would live here, to prevent undesirables from entering and to ensure that those who should not be here,leave.

    The EU stifles anything and everything and is the greatest block to trade with countries outside the EU there is.

    There is a very simple answer to those who believe that the EU is their comfort blanket and feel bereft without it. Germany is crying out for migrants, as evidenced by Angela Merkel’s foolish broadcast invitation to ALL. The result was the invasion or Turkey, Greece and Italy by hundreds of thousands of migrants, which did include genuine refugees, and which had resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths at sea.

    • Nick
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Juncker was elected as President of the Commission at the European Parliament elections in 2014. Tusk and van Rompuy were chosen by the elected heads of the EU Member states. All are therefore answerable to the people of Europe.

      The UK is outside the Schengen arrangements, so could control entry into the country.

      And people were leaving Syria well before Merkel said they could come to Germany.

      • EBGB
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Ah yes, ‘all are therefore answerable to the people of Europe’ – but how, exactly?

        And, even with the Schengen arrangements in place the government completely failed to deliver on it’s promise to reduce total immigration or to get any meaningful concession from the EU about free movement.

        Despite the Remain sides accusation of racism and Farage’s disgraceful poster, the total number of immigrants, not their origin, was the main driver.

        • Nick
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

          If EU citizens want rid of Juncker, they should vote for the other guys at the next European Parliament elections.

          As to the UK Government’s failures to meet its promises on immigration, well the person in charge of immigration will now be in charge of the whole country, so let’s she how she gets on.

  28. Aaron Ferguson
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    However the most important news is this!

    “Larry the cat escapes Downing Street eviction”

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