SOME politicians don’t realise when they have it so good and often find it difficult to resist the urge to go after even more power – quite often just for the sake of it. It seems like an addiction of sorts and often comes back to bite them, as it did with British Prime Minister Theresa May when her attempt to get a bigger majority for her Conservative Party with a snap general election backfired on her last week.
It was an election that she did not need to call and the seven-week lead-in to it was far too long from her point of view, as the longer the campaign went on, the more it played into the hands of her opponents, with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn confounding the critics – many of them within his own party – who had predicted that this election would dispatch him to political oblivion. However, Mrs May’s failure to engage in any serious policy debates contributed to her electoral setback and this was not helped either by the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London in the weeks leading up to polling day.
Instead of gaining an increased majority, the Conservative Party lost seats and ended up as the largest party in a hung parliament, becoming dependent to govern on a hastily cobbled-together supply and confidence arrangement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party– hardly an ideal scenario with the important formal Brexit negotiations with the European Union set to begin next week. While Sinn Féin will not be best pleased that the DUP will have such a pivotal role in facilitating the Brexit process, given that the majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in last year’s referendum, their influence on the British government may help make it a softer exit, which would suit the Republic of Ireland better.
With her predecessor David Cameron having resigned after his Brexit referendum defeat last year, Theresa May’s days as British Prime Minister are probably numbered too as it is unlikely the Tories will want her leading them into the next general election.