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Britain sends out a ‘Mayday’

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Never before has a British prime minister been defeated in parliament as heavily as Theresa May last night. By 230 votes, she lost the motion on her deal for exit from the EU, a deal which has been two years in the making. One hundred eighteen of her own MPs voted against her deal – that’s the vast majority of Conservative MPs who aren’t on the government’s payroll. In any normal time, such a defeat would lead to the immediate resignation of the prime minister and a general election. But with her Conservative Party utterly divided, and few of her colleagues willing or able to swap places with her, Maycarries on.

May’s party is now bitterly divided. In fact, that division is how we got into this calamitous situation. For decades, a part of the British ruling class, represented by the Conservative Party, has been desperate to leave the EU, which they see, incredibly, as a left-wing conspiracy. They want to get back to the days when Britannia ruled the waves and could force “free” trade on any country we wanted to.

With his usual arrogance, David Cameron thought he could easily beat this right-wing element of his own party. But after imposing five years of deep austerity, which started to undermine the social fabric of Britain, he fatally misjudged his own unpopularity. When those in northern industrial towns, who’ve been forgotten by British governments for decades, joined their votes with the usual anti-immigrant bigots, it was enough for Brexit to win, albeit narrowly.

Theresa May then came to power as the Brexiteers’ champion. She has been utterly intransigent. She has failed to speak to the half of the county that voted “remain”. She has refused to talk to the opposition in order to come up with a solution that........

© The News International