The Corner


Brexit’s Civil War

It’s been a head-spinning week for British politics, and it isn’t getting any better.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Theresa May, after two years of negotiations within her own cabinet, managed to make some headway on a Brexit plan to present to Brussels. After an all-day meeting at Chequers, her official country residence, a softer Brexit was decided.

Since the 2017 General Election, May has struggled with a constipated cabinet; perhaps complicating the estimable Peter Hitchens’s remark that “Brexit” connotes a lumpy laxative breakfast cereal.

The Tory “Brexiteers” want what they campaigned on — a hard Brexit and severed EU ties. But the “Remainers” continually drag their heels. Corbyn’s Labour Party is similarly divided. And as May is finding out at her own cost, it’s impossible to please everyone.

On Sunday, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, resigned from the cabinet, citing his fundamental rejection of the soft Brexit deal. On Monday, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who initially called the deal a “turd,” made a dramatic Boexit and penned some more sophisticated rhetoric.

Hiring a photographer to capture him in the act of signing his resignation letter, Johnson sought to create a media splash. (Mission accomplished.) The New York Times described the picture thus:

Boris Johnson stares into the distance, his brow furrowed, a lamp softly illuminating his features and a document in front of him. The image is pensive, deliberate and staged, and somewhat unusual as political portraits go. After all, most politicians don’t sit for resignation photos.

His letter was equally attention seeking — “the Brexit dream is dying” etc., — and made for many pithy headlines.

Then, having just filled these vacancies, May learned on Tuesday that Ben Bradley and Maria Caulfield, Conservative vice-chairs, and unlikely troublemakers, were also resigning.

If the British political scene looks like a circus — that’s because it is. And as the Tories fight among themselves, a vulture circles . . . opportunistically waiting . . .

Madeleine Kearns — Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and moonlights as a singer.

Most Popular

Film & TV

A Right-Wing Halloween

‘The world is not a dark and evil place,” insists an exasperated woman played by Judy Greer in Halloween. “It’s full of love and understanding!” I put the question to the class: Is she right? In the new film (not a reboot but a sequel that occurs 40 years after the events in the 1978 original and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Blackface Party

I must have missed something: Was there some kind of all-hands white-people meeting at which we voted to kick the Democrats out? Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Dolezal, Beto O’Rourke — what’s up with all the ethnic play-acting? Isn’t cultural appropriation supposed to be a bad thing among progressives? Isn’t ... Read More

The State of the Race for the House

Way back in January, I went through the then-34 seats where a Republican incumbent was retiring and concluded that most were in deeply red districts and not likely to flip to Democrats. Pollsters and media organizations are less inclined to conduct surveys of House races, both because there’s less public ... Read More