Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay – Tuesday July 13, 2016
Theresa May’s first job? Tackling the damning legacy of David Cameron
The unexpectedly fast selection of Home Secretary Theresa May as the incoming new British prime minister means that she will now move into Downing Street on Wednesday, with David Cameron formally resigning to the Queen earlier that same day. The speedier-than-anticipated transition gives very little time for her to prepare for a massive agenda which, first and foremost, comprises tackling the damning legacy of Mr. Cameron – not just the British exit from the European Union, but also the United Kingdom itself unravelling.
This is a huge political task for Ms. May and the tragedy is that this troubled political inheritance was by no means inevitable, and stems in large part from Mr. Cameron’s own unwise decisions in office.
The EU referendum Mr. Cameron called was one of personal choice, not necessity, and reflected in large part his concerns in 2014 – before the last British general election – that the U.K. Independence Party posed a significant electoral threat to the ruling Conservatives.
Calling a referendum in these circumstances has proven to be a reckless gamble that has destroyed his premiership. Ms. May must now pick up the pieces and try to negotiate a Brexit on the best possible terms with Brussels and the other 27 member states in very difficult circumstances.
The referendum vote will have potentially massive implications for the longer-term future not just of the EU, but also the U.K. On the latter front, for instance, the U.K.’s current constitutional settlement has now become further destabilized with a significantly increased likelihood of a second Scottish independence referendum vote, and also the possibility of greater political uncertainty in Northern Ireland.
Unlike England and Wales, both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU last month. This is a point that has already been strongly emphasized by parties such as Sinn Fein and the Scottish Nationalist Party which favour the further fragmentation of the United Kingdom. (Continued: Globe & Mail)