Brexit Britain from Abroad: Voters Punish “Maybot” and Reject Hard Brexit

May’s Miscalculation

This must have been the worst election campaign that a British politician has run for decades. Theresa May treated the British like children, whose future could be dictated. She refused to take part in public debate, avoided any discussion with voters and endlessly repeated the same terms and phrases to every question. Her robot-like repetition of empty slogans earned her the nickname "Maybot."

In the last weeks, the British have suddenly been able to observe their prime minister outside her protected role. She showed herself to be cut off, staying in her own small group of trusted people, not trusting anyone else, unable to listen. May appeared insensitive, lacking any understanding of people's real concerns. And these concerns are to do with education, the health system, and the public financing of aged care. Reviled as a "dementia tax," her suggestion that elderly people in need of care would have to finance it themselves -  and her subsequent turnaround in this issue - damaged her enormously. It is unbelievable that someone could even make such an absurd suggestion during an election campaign. Theresa May must have a penchant for self-destruction.

Barbara Wesel, Deutsche Welle

The Punishment of May

May believed she could build a big parliamentary majority from the center to the fringe on a program that served the fringe at the expense of the center—because the main opposition party was also doing the same. The center had no good choices, and must accept her as the less bad. Instead, they punished her as the author of their dilemma. The early exit polls suggest the mechanics of what happened: May’s populism boosted her support among white working class voters, but not enough to tip Labour strongholds her way; meanwhile, she lost ground among middle-class metropolitan voters, costing the Conservatives seats through wealthy southeastern England. The Conservatives even lost Canterbury, a Tory seat since the advent of universal male suffrage in 1918.

The disaffected middle class did not punish May so roughly as to bring the dreaded Corbyn to power. But through some mysterious collective wisdom, they did just enough to break her power, cut short her career—and very possibly reopen the question whether Brexit cannot be stopped.

David Frum, The Atlantic

 Theresa’s Little Helpers

The current DUP leader and now the lifeline to the survival of Theresa May, Arlene Foster, was Mr Robinson’s choice of replacement when he left the political stage. She has remained well to the right in both matters of politics and questions of morality. She is opposed to same sex marriage and heads a party predominantly anti-gay and pro-Brexit.

Where Mrs Foster’s stance on gay marriage etc fits into a modern liberal British society begs questions. However, the DUP ought to remember what Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams once told a republican rally: “The British never disappoint their enemies. They only disappoint their friends. What can be bought can be sold”.

Eamonn Mallie, The Irish Times

Failed Gamble

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, reminded London that while the start of the two-year Brexit negotiations may have to be delayed, article 50 of the Lisbon treaty had already been triggered and talks would have to be concluded by March 2019.

“We don’t know when Brexit talks start,” Tusk tweeted on Friday. “We know when they must end. Do your best to avoid a ‘no deal’ as result of ‘no negotiations’.”

Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who now chairs the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, called the outcome “messy”.

“One mess risks following another. Price to be paid for lack of true leadership,” he tweeted.

Mick O”Reilly, Gulf News

Brexit in Doubt

The unexpected outcome saw the pound shed as much as three US cents at one point, or close to 2 per cent, on fears the political turmoil could delay, and complicate, Brexit talks, which are due to start in 10 days.

"A minority government is the worst possible scenario," said Perpetual head of multi-asset strategy Matthew Sherwood. "It elevates the political risk premium over every single piece of legislation ... The more uncertain the outcome, the more political risk will be priced into markets.

Of key importance is how the Brexit negotiations will now proceed, said Colonial First State Global Asset Management chief economist Stephen Halmarick. "There's already talk discussions will be delayed until they know what form the government will take and what will happen to Theresa May," he said.

Myriam Robin, Sydney Morning Herald

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