May’s lost opportunity to bring real change

The UK prime minister has shuffled her Cabinet, but the real divides and differences leave her vulnerable

Gulf News
17:43 January 9, 2018

The New Year is a time for resolutions, change, promising to do things better. For so many of us, New Year’s resolutions fall so quickly by the wayside of reality — and United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May is no exception. For weeks, May had promised to shuffle her Cabinet, make it younger, more relevant, more effective; less internecine, less divided, less dominated by the two political classes in Britain — those in favour and those opposed to Brexit. On Monday, after her attempts at re-appointing, renaming and re-adjusting the make-up of those who sit around the great historic table at No 10 Downing Street, it was more or less the same.

Since deciding to call an early general election last June and following which her Conservative party rules as a minority government propped up only on a confidence and supply motion from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from Northern Ireland, May has been a lame-duck leader trying to deal with the single-most important political and economic, domestic and international issue since the guns fell silent at the end of the Second World War — Britain’s divorce after 44 years in the European Union. Since June, the Cabinet of her choosing has been deeply divided between those who favour and oppose either a “hard” or “soft” Brexit. Those divisions have erupted in personal attacks and political recriminations for senior Cabinet ministers, with her government seemingly unable to effectively deal with Brexit in whatever form Brussels will agree too. It is a government that has also largely failed to reinvigorate its party’s supporters, bring younger supporters to the Tory tent, or indeed deal with the crises that affect most ordinary Britons on a daily basis.

Police in rural areas is an endangered species. The sick and ill are dying waiting for ambulances to take them to hospitals, or dying in ambulances as they wait to get a bed in hospitals, or dying as they wait for life-saving operations and procedures. The young cannot buy houses, the old fear they may lose theirs homes to pay for their care. The homeless remain on the streets. Most train services are broken. Most workers are broke.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson remains free to quote Rudyard Kipling and fly the hard Brexit flag; Chancellor Phillip Hammond remains to quote the dangers to the free market and fly the soft Brexit banner. Last Tuesday’s Cabinet shuffle has done nothing to change anything. Nothing has been resolved.

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