Either a country is led by a strong leader who controls the narrative or the narrative is controlled by others
And because Theresa May allowed the narrative to be controlled by everyone but her since July 2016, the present moment of government dysfunction is on the Prime Minister’s head. Her talking about the ‘collective responsibility’ of the House of Commons for the ongoing Brexit spectacle is appalling.
She talks about the ‘collective failure of Parliament’ to find a way forward on the Brexit file, yet MP’s are simply reacting to the situation that Theresa May created — or rather, the situation that she allowed to evolve into what it is today.
Whatever is wrong with Brexit at this moment isn’t the voter’s fault, it isn’t the EU’s fault as they’ve been on-message the whole time without deviation (whether we agree with their positions are another matter, of course) and it isn’t the fault of Parliament.
The reason we’re at this absurd moment is because the seeds were set early in Theresa May’s premiership; In her initial feckless attitude towards Brexit, in her so-called ‘red lines’ (which she has now crossed every one of them, so why did she bother?) and in her weakness to a) stand up to members of her own cabinet, and b) to stand up for the UK’s position in Brussels with anything more than supplication and kowtowing.
Assigning ‘collective responsibility’ and ‘collective failure’ on a House of Commons that (practically) had to pull her teeth to gain tiny bits of news about how Brexit negotiations were unfolding is a bit rich, Prime Minister!
12-Days From Brexit Day
Europe is now 12-days away from Brexit, and nobody, not one person in Europe, knows what’s happening!
The automatic and legally binding default is a No Deal Brexit — as that’s the law in the United Kingdom and in the European Union too — as they accepted the final Brexit date as March 29, 2019 early in the discussions.
And if Theresa May is simply ‘going through the motions’ and running down the clock to get to a No Deal Brexit on March 29th she’s still got my vote!
Because, frankly, that’s what The People voted for in the June 23, 2016 referendum, and the referendum result was strengthened by the June 8, 2017 UK General Election where every party that won seats in that election were parties that supported Brexit.
At that time we weren’t talking about Withdrawal Agreements or Political Declarations as Theresa May hadn’t yet begun to confuse everyone with ‘red lines’, with complicated withdrawal documents, with a plethora of Cabinet-level firings, resignations, and hirings, complete with mixed messages between her and her still-employed Cabinet officials, between her and her caucus, between her and the EU and EC Presidents, and between her and the UK public.
I think I see where the problem is. Prime Minister Theresa May has a communications problem.
That’s fine. New Prime Ministers and new Presidents can sometimes have that problem. But it’s important to rectify it before it blows up the country, blows up Brexit, or even blows up the Conservative Party’s chances of governing ever again.
While she’s done a great job on the economy, on government services, and not too bad on foreign affairs (Brexit aside) nobody knows about that information, anywhere! Even people who work for the government might not know that. It’s a well-kept secret. And that’s the number one sign of a communications problem.
The second sign of a communications problem (in Theresa May’s case) is the present Brexit situation which is looking more a debacle each passing day. Even if the UK does exit on March 29th as promised, she’ll still receive only half the credit she would for accomplishing that goal on account of the bad optics surrounding her leadership and accomplishments. Not to mention her remaining challenges.
If Theresa May is in charge of her own communications department she needs to fire herself fast — and if she actually pays someone to keep all her good accomplishments quiet and make her look as inept and as timorous as possible in her dealings with the EU, she needs to fire that person, fast.
The ‘Patriotic Thing’ List for Theresa May
- Always own your successes and always own your failures. Don’t try to fob your failures off on MP’s. You created the Brexit situation as it now stands, you are the one in charge, it’s yours, own it. Like U.S. President Harry Truman said: “The buck stops here.” And every world leader must live by that rule. Yes, it can be unfair sometimes, but that’s life, and nobody ever said life was fair. It’s why you get paid the big bucks, and nobody forced you into the Prime Minister’s chair. Deal with it.
- Hire a communications director. You need help. He or she won’t be able to cover bad policy decisions that you make, but at least they can minimize them, and they can help you keep MP’s better informed all the way along a process so that it doesn’t look like you F’d it up partway through and you’re now trying to dump the whole mess on them and make it look like it’s their fault.
- Keep your promises, no matter how hard that is to do. You said a million times that Brexit will be completed by March 29, 2019, therefore (too late to change now!) you must keep your promise. The UK must Brexit on March 29th, without fail, or you and your party are toast at the next election. And maybe the one after that.
- Even if the UK leaves without a Withdrawal Agreement, Britain will save £39 billion and it will become instantly eligible to sign Free Trade Deals with other countries; Two major benefits right there! And the EU will come calling, of that you can be certain. They need to sell all those BMW’s and Volkswagens into the UK, and a whole lot more than that. Eventually, and on an à la carte basis, every part of the present draft Withdrawal Agreement will be signed between the UK and the EU, but only because it’s in the best interests of both parties. It will happen organically. Don’t sweat it.
- Threatening to cancel Brexit, or delaying Brexit, or adding one or two years to the Withdrawal Agreement negotiating process only works to make you look small. It will make you look like you’re not big enough to handle the job and make the UK look like the teenager who says he wants to move out of Mom and Dad’s house, yet becomes afraid and reneges on his pledge. Cancelling Brexit or delaying Brexit for any reason means that you’re just not up to the job and that you need to be replaced. Real leaders get things done, while pretenders need more time, more time, more time — until the whole issue just goes away and it never gets done. That’s the kind of thing we see in Frontier economies, not in Top 10 economies.
- Stop acting like the UK is the 120th-largest economy on Earth. The UK is the 6th-largest economy in the world and every country wants to trade with it. The UK needn’t kowtow to any country. It’s time to embrace the world, and it’s time to re-energize our relationship with the Commonwealth countries.
“Two men look out through the same bars; One sees mud, the other, stars.” Frederick Langbridge
Written by John Brian Shannon