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A Brexit Two Remake!

Dickson Igwe. Photo: VINO
Dickson Igwe

British Prime Minister, Theresa M. May, has called for a surprise UK General Election for June 8, 2017. This amounts to Brexit Two.

The "June Surprise" amounts to a second Brexit Referendum. The Prime Minister and the Conservative party she leads are expected to win convincingly.

 The imminent General Election will further push Britain to the Right. It will leave the UK Conservative Party in power for a generation. That is, unless something unexpected takes place. Can Mrs May conceivably lose the June General Election? In life, "never say never!"

However, if as expected, Theresa M. May wins with an increased Conservative majority in Parliament, it will fully legitimise the exit of Britain from Europe. It will seal the UK’s fate as the world’s largest offshore financial services jurisdiction. Brexit 2 will entrench the rule of the 1%.

A General Election victory will validate Prime Minister May, who inherited her office after the resignation of Ex PM David Cameron. The PM will be fully legitimised.

Cameron resigned, after his call for a Brexit Referendum resulted in a vote that went south. Britain voted yes to leaving Europe. This is a vote that means that Britain will leave the European Union in months.

Brexit may have set up the Conservative Party to rule ad infinitum. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, will have to recalibrate their intentions as part of the United Kingdom after the June 8 vote. These regions will have to reassess their perceived interests as countries of the Union, in the light of this unexpected move by Mrs May.

A Conservative general election victory will push Britain to the right in terms of the political culture. The election call was a master stroke by Mrs May. However, it carries substantial risk.

Opposition members of Parliament in Britain believe that Mrs May’s call for a General Election in June is a naked act of political aggression. It is Machiavellian brinkmanship. It shows the PM as ruthless. The timing is perfect. She appears to have caught her foes "with their pants down." Mrs May pulled in the drawbridge against her opponents, just as the political terrain on the outside of the castle became deadly and treacherous.

The Opposition Labour party is in a historic mess. It is led by a socialist who hearkens back to when a significant section of the British population worked in coal mines, manufacturing, and ship building, and existed in a working class culture: the Classic Shop Floor Society.

Those were the days of Aneurin Bevan and Hugh Gaitskell, and Michael Foot and Anthony Benn.

Britons are conservative and deferential by nature. Britain is a country of shop keepers and salesmen. The British are also insular, despite the country’s imperial and mercantilist traditions. The country evolved from the time of the Norman Invasion, without the trauma of revolution and civil war, apart from the short Cromwell era, when the monarchy was overthrown for a very short period.

Britain today is a center right country. It is a services oriented, financially driven economy. Britain’s middle and upper classes enjoy very high standards of living. The country enjoys the highest level of home ownership since 1945. Britain’s income per capita has averaged $36,000 per annum since 2010. However, Britain is becoming increasingly unequal.

Presently, the Prime Minister’s Conservative Party is governing with a slender majority. By calling this election, May will strengthen the Conservatives, giving the party a larger governing majority in Parliament. May is also dispelling any doubts about Brexit. If as expected, the Prime Minister wins by a landslide, her authority will be unquestioned. She will walk into the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, with unquestionable political clout.

Her confidence is high. She has refused a televised debate. What use is a televised debate when Mrs May is so far ahead in the polls: over twenty points? She can only come out of that a loser.

Still, there are caveats. Voters may be having second thoughts about Brexit, and the wisdom of leaving the world’s largest integrated marketplace. A day is a long time in politics. 6 weeks are an eternity in an election campaign.

Jeremy Corbyn of Labour presents Britain with a socialist alternative that appears attractive to a significant cross section of the voting public. His message: austerity and conservatism are not working for the majority. Corbyn will assert that Britain requires economic stimulus and increased spending on education and social services, in order to create a more equal society. No one knows how this message will be received by June 8. Elections can be tricky and unpredictable.

Corbyn will stress that a Theresa M. May Conservative Party Government Landslide will reinforce the economics of austerity that has greatly divided Britain. He will press the narrative that there are two Britain’s in existence: that Britain is increasingly a them and us society.

There is the Britain of the over 60s. These are voters that are more conservative than the under 40s. The under 40s have suffered from the austerity of the post 2007 Great recession. Older voters today tend to be right wing, affluent, and therefore Conservative voters.

Younger voters, the under 30s, have suffered most from austerity. The young have been locked out of Britain’s housing market. They have to borrow to go to university, when once upon a time university education in Britain was free for Britons. The young are less likely to vote. The young suffer most from a new insecure and temporary work environment. This volatile way of life for Britain’s young, is the result of them being essentially locked out of the political and economic process.

This political alienation is further the result of the unstable and nomadic lifestyle that many young persons in Britain have had to adopt post the 2007 recession. It is a consequence of their not enjoying the generous housing and social benefits their grandparents once enjoyed as Citizens and Subjects of Great Britain. 

For the Virgin Islands, Brexit 2 is a good thing. The eventual departure of Britain from Europe should enhance the offshore trading and financial credentials, of Britain’s overseas territories. There will be a new commercial opportunism, and financial mercantilism, that favors offshore financial centers. There will be better collaboration between the City of London and Britain’s Offshore Finance Jurisdictions. Offshore Finance Centers will become key satellites of the City, in a UK that seeks business opportunities worldwide.

Add to the preceding, a new U S President who is opaque and business minded, and focused on North Korea, Syria, and in taming the Russian Bear. Unlike Barack H. Obama, Trump, a swashbuckling billionaire and hotel mogul, has zero interest in harassing offshore finance centers. Trump has even refused to declare his taxes. In a dangerous and volatile world, the grass has seldom been greener for offshore finance havens.

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