May turns Britain’s roar into a whimper

May turns Britain’s roar into a whimper, by Paul Kelly.

The woman who declared from a position of strength that “no deal is better than a bad deal” is now left with no policy and no clothes.

Having asked the British public to empower her with a fresh mandate to confront the Germans and French, May is left with no mandate and a leadership put at grievous risk.

In assessing whether to challenge her, Tory MPs confront the urgency of the European negotiation and the risk a challenge might threaten the government’s survival.

Yet May has no bargaining power in Europe when Britain’s future depends upon that bargaining power.

The recent election of Emmanuel Macron as France’s President means May faces a united German-French position opposed to any easy exit for Britain. Macron and Chancellor Merkel will be ever-so polite and ever-so contemptuous. …

The Tory party will never trust her with another election campaign. She lives on borrowed political time. Her blunder — throwing away a majority that could have endured another three years — is unforgivable. …

May cannot be sure her tough line on quitting the single market and the customs union — with all the negatives this means for British business — will pass the parliament. The Democratic Unionist Party on whose votes she will rely to form a minority government openly backs a soft Brexit.

It is wrong to see the British election as a repudiation of the 52-48 per cent Brexit vote at the referendum yet it is idle to deny the manifest elements of such sentiment, notably in the pro-EU stance of the youth vote that turned out in force against May this time, having failed last year to appear at the referendum ballot box.

It is still most unlikely the Brexit decision will be reversed. That could only come with a new government and a new referendum.