Before Trump’s UK visit, the president said he expected to find a country ‘in turmoil’. Though not helped by his political interventions, backtracking, and the protests organized against him, was Trump right? Is the UK in turmoil?
As Britain swelters under a record breaking heat wave, the temperature has been turned up on Brexit negotiations. When Prime Minister Theresa May could once call on Brexiteer support, she is now fending off assaults from both sides of her party.
While across the aisle, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is once again failing to put an end to party’s anti-Semitism row. Corbyn is facing open attacks from his own MPs and opposition from a group of British Rabbis, putting him off his stride just as May begins to falter.
Brexiteers rocking the boat
The endless infighting instigated by Brexit shows no sign of abating, with cabinet ministers coming and going at alarming speed. Both Boris Johnson and David Davis quit last week, leading to host of junior ministers following suit.
They now join Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and his powerful European Research Group (ERG) on the Tory’s backbenches with the sole purpose of pulling the PM toward their desired hard Brexit.
The ERG and their allies hang the threat of a leadership contest above May’s head, moving her to one wing of her party. She is now a PM in office but not in power.
Rebels finding their voice
In a pincer movement of pissed-off MPs, May is also facing attack from the Tory’s (finally) rebellious Remainer wing. Following a plethora of empty threats to rebel, roughly a dozen Tory Remainers have finally followed through, voting against the government on amendments to the Chequers deal.
Leading the rebellion charge is Anna Soubry, who – despite consistently voting for Brexit legislation – has become the darling of Remainers courting them with her impassioned speeches to parliament. Soubry, in an unprecedented if ambitious move, has called for a government of national unity – a measure usually only formed during a time of war.
Same old problems for Labour
Though Labour has seen their polling improve, as many former UKIP voters desert the Tories fearing a soft-Brexit, a consistent blight on Corbyn’s leadership remains: anti-Semitism.
The party sought to remedy the issue through a code of conduct. Despite this, MPs and some Jewish leaders and groups sought to amend the code to be in line with that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) a move which critics say will threaten freedom of speech when it comes to criticizing Israel.
It remains to be seen if Corbyn can tame the tumult in his own ranks to take further advantage of Tory disarray, but an opposition riven with infighting is only contributing to the political turmoil that is even threatening Britain’s once lofty position in world politics.
Much of governing Britain following World War II has been an exercise in managing decline. Even so, the country’s increasingly diminishing role on the world stage even over the last few months is cause for alarm.
Having once boasted of having a special relationship with the US, the UK seems to have been supplanted by France and their leader Emmanuel Macron, whose Trump charm offensive seems to be paying off.
Despite rushing to congratulate Trump following his victory, May’s standing with the president was highlighted when he endorsed her rival Boris Johnson for prime minister.
All this while the country gets more and more bothered by its biggest heat wave in 40 years. If one thing can unite Brits, it’s sharing a moan about endlessly dreary weather – without grey clouds and spitting rain to bind us, the country truly is in turmoil.
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