The past year has been one of chaos for the Prime Minister - and the country, argues CLASS director Dr Faiza Shaheen.
Pic (CC): Britain is at breaking point – because of Brexit, not despite it, argues Dr Faiza Shaheen.
It’s hardly surprising that this government is turning to Henry VIII powers over Brexit.
The tyrant is remembered as the worst monarch in history: and just like the Tudor king, the Tories will be remembered more for the callousness and self-indulgence than any achievements. Beyond discussions on Brexit, government has been suspended ever since the Brexit vote. It is a government in absentia.
It means that disasters of their own making, like the collapsing Universal Credit system, are ignored. Ministers were in a stupor for weeks over the Windrush scandal. And the Grenfell anniversary was a reminder of how slow May was to react.
As MPs knock off for their summer holidays, it has truly been an Annus Horribilis for the Prime Minister. Presiding over a cabinet and backbenchers at war with each other and buffeted from both wings of her party on the customs union Britain is careering towards a ‘no deal’ cliff edge. No-one knows what “Brexit means Brexit” means – any more than ‘government means government’.
On every major issue facing society – from the housing crisis to the NHS crisis – ministers have been churning out consultations as an excuse for not taking action. Bar Brexit, the legislative programme was so torpid it resembles a parrot from a Monty Python sketch.
Every effort has supposedly been dedicated to the historic decision to leave the EU, but this has clearly been in vain. European negotiators have been complaining for months how little progress had been made. May said she wasn’t revealing her hand, but when the White Paper came out it was clear her position was a few cards short of a deck.
Then came the host of resigning ministers. When your two main men resign you know you’re handling things badly or that you hired the wrong staff.
With no plan on the Ireland border, and no plan on Gibraltar, May’s Brexit is likely to be whatever Jacob Rees-Mogg tells her it is. What it isn’t, is a workers’ Brexit.
David Davis’s replacement, Dominic Raab, has spent his career fulminating against the EU’s Working Time Directive. This is a proxy for attacking workers rights in general, and that means ramping up inequality, workplace stress and industrial injuries.
Labour’s warnings that the Tories are engaged in a race to the bottom are now coming true. Their vision for Britain is little more than an unregulated, low-wage economy where workers are exploited. They want to turn the UK into even more of a tax haven doing bi-lateral trade deals with the most reviled and unpredictable American president in history. Sadly for Theresa May – no amount of hand holding with Donald Trump is going to get such a deal.
Wherever you look – on Brexit, on domestic issues or on our international reputation – this government has been taking us backwards. What’s worse is that there’s inevitably more failure to come. The government are now reportedly stockpiling food and blood supplies.
This scenario even exceeds the so-called ‘project fear’ predictions. At least there is one area where the Conservatives are excelling.
Dr Faiza Shaheen is Director of CLASS (Centre for Labour and Social Studies), and a Labour PPC in Chingford and Woodford Green.
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