Theresa May is a modern-day Rasputin

As Britain's Parliament returns tomorrow from its summer recess, right on cue comes another attempt to blow ...

Posted: Sep 3, 2018 3:14 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2018 3:14 PM

As Britain's Parliament returns tomorrow from its summer recess, right on cue comes another attempt to blow up Prime Minister Theresa May.

This time it's her former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. In his weekly column in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, he describes the government's Brexit negotiating position with the European Union as "white flag fluttering."

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Piling on the outrage he splutters: "The UK has agreed to hand over £40 billion of taxpayers' money for two thirds of diddly squat."

The article has generated exactly the coverage Johnson wants. The focus is back on him and speculation about a leadership bid.

So, mission accomplished? In a way, yes. Just not in the way that Johnson intended.

The autumn political season -- which includes a brief return of Parliament and then the party conferences -- is launched as summer ended, with arguments about Brexit and speculation about May's longevity.

But she's still standing. Why? Because she has tried to answer the hardest political questions facing the UK in 2018.

Unlike her critics, she has actually written down what she wants to happen after Brexit in what is known in Britain as the "Chequers Plan." It might not be perfect, but it is a plan. And while it is being criticized in detail, it does as least set out some details.

And what does Johnson offer? Bluster.

He is long on assertions and short on solutions.

Take just one example. One of the trickiest circles to square in the Brexit negotiations has been the question of what happens with the currently open border between Northern Ireland, which will remain part of the United Kingdom as it leaves the EU, and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain an EU member state.

Johnson claims that the Irish border is "fixable," and that the real scandal is that rather than failing to fix it, the government has "not even tried."

Yet, if sorting the border with Ireland is so easy, why did you not manage to do so in the two years you served as Foreign Secretary, Boris?

The answer is obvious. When you describe a possible real world solution with actual details and information it can be analyzed and criticized by people who know what they are talking about.

Far easier to stick with rhetorical flourishes than to attempt any answers. It's just like that scene in "Blazing Saddles" where Mel Brooks demands "We must do something immediately!" and is met by a chorus of "Harrumph! Harrumph! Harrumph."

Once you start looking, you see it everywhere. The People's Vote campaign, which wants to have a referendum on Britain's final deal with the EU, is acting like a cross between a sociologist and a mafia boss -- making an offer you can't understand.

Anti-EU MPs who want to assert parliamentary sovereignty over Brexit cannot describe a realistic route to end the deadlock, let alone to a decision.

Chief among this rabble is the European Research Group, a hardline Brexit group of MPs, for whom a great deal with the EU27 is so easy they can't be bothered to publish it.

Then there's the equally pathetic Conservative Remainers, who want to hold back and soften the government's Brexit stance, but not just yet.

And don't forget the Official Opposition Labour Party, whose strategy of ambiguity was intended to pile pressure onto the government, but has instead led to Labour silence on the most important issue facing the country.

Every week is Theresa May's worst-ever week -- since last week, that is.

This pattern is going to repeat itself again and again. She has grasped the truth that in politics, as in life, a bad plan is better than no plan. While her opponents, on all sides, wander around like King Lear, claiming, "I will do such things/What they are, yet I know not," May will survive.

She's a modern-day Rasputin. They shoot her, they stab her, they poison her -- and still she keeps walking.

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