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Labour: A Government in Waiting

by Nazir Tabassum
While on holiday in Wales, the idea flashed to the mind of the British Prime Minister Mrs Theresa May that a few more seats added to her basket would make her position strong when she will sit across the negotiating table in Brussels to deal Brexit.

This idea was further strengthened as she considered Labour party in disarray and its Leader still not able to get his leadership established by the dissenters of the party. Her two advisors, now removed unceremoniously, further led her into a make belief situation and as a result, one fine morning, as she woke up from deep, dreamy and peaceful slumber, she came out of the 10 Downing Street where media people were already waiting, she surprised everyone present by announcing snap elections.

At that time, she had a majority of 13 seats in the commons. She never knew that dreams rarely come true. She was also unmindful of the fact that most of the dreams turn out to be deceptive in the real life and thus become nightmares. And the same happened. So, when she got up once again on the Friday morning of June 9, she had lost majority and could win just 318 seats, 326 is required to form majority government. In this way, her plan to make her position strong in Brexit negotiation simply backfired.

The election results were highly encouraging for the Labour party; they bagged 262 seats but these elections proved beyond any doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is a man of parts having skilful leadership qualities. All of his adversaries as well as the dissenters in the party were led to the practical belief that paying lip service to the tabloids and going against the Labour ideals is not the mantra to win elections.

Before going any further, the election results at a glance: Tories – 318; Labour – 262; SNP – 35 (losing 21); others -23. Grandies like Alex Salmon, Angus Robertson, and Nick Clegg were toppled over.

There was nothing for Mrs May except to cut a sorry figure for the loss of majority that she had and for her former colleagues who lost their seats and became jobless. Though the election results were a disaster for Mrs May, yet she clings with power and to stay in power she is obliged to beg support from DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) of Northern Ireland with 10 seats. In this way, her hopes to boost her mandate for Brexit negotiation were dashed. And now her minority government is dependent upon 10 DUP members to pass any piece of legislation in the Parliament.

She failed miserably to deliver a resounding victory for the Conservative party. In spite of all that, her decision to cling to power has instigated widespread condemnation not only by her colleagues in the House but also by Jeremy Corbyn who has demanded her to resign. On the floor of the House he said:

“We are not an opposition; we are a Government-in-Waiting”.

Apart from that, there were demonstrations in which the majority of the participants were young people who clanged in and around Downing Street raising slogans demanding her resignation. Now Mrs May is isolated by her cabinet with big Tory MPs like Boris Johnson, and Amber Rudd conspicuously absent from the airwaves in the aftermath of the election results. Boris, as he was previously, is Foreign Secretary; Amber Rudd, Home Secretary; Sir Michael Fallon Defence Secretary; Philip Hammond Chancellor of the Exchequer; David Davis seen prominently in Brussels is Brexit Secretary.

It is interesting to note what she said to the Queen as she met her in Buckingham Palace, asking permission to form the minority government:

“What the country needs more than ever is certainty and having secured the largest number of votes and greatest number of seats in the General election, it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons.”

She further said: “Her minority administration will guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks that begin in just 10 days.”

DUP leader, Arlene Foster said: DUP’s backing for the Conservative was far from a done deal as she only said she would talk to Mrs May to try and find a way forward. I’m informed deal is done; the parliamentary arithmetic of the situation will mean Mrs May will face an almighty struggle to pursue the policies set out in the Conservative manifesto.

Now, what is clear as day light, is that if a handful of Conservative MPs desert the party on key votes, Mrs May’s plans would be left in tatters. This is the basis on which Mr Corbyn urged the Prime Minister to resign; she “should go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country.” Not only Mr Corbyn but senior Conservative members too suggested she should consider her position.

Adding salt to the injury, George Osborn, the sacked former Chancellor, now editor of the Evening Standard, while talking to ITV, said: He doubts whether the PM can “survive” in the long term as Conservative party leader.

The “hard Brexit” on which she based her future politics is now crumbling as Donald Tusk, President of the EU Council, said in a letter to Mrs May: there is now “no time to lose” on Brexit negotiations after other senior figures suggested talks be delayed.

Conservatives, more so their leader, had to face further humiliation when Ben Gummer, the architect of Tory manifesto, and Jane Ellison, financial secretary of the treasury, lost their seats. As opposed to that, Labour performed much better than expected with Mr Corbyn announcing he was ready to form the government. Speaking from the Labour party headquarters, he said: “I think it is pretty clear who won this election. We are ready to do everything we can to put our programme into operation. There isn’t a parliamentary majority for anybody at the present time, the party that has lost election is the Tory party, the arguments the Conservative party put forward in this election, have lost.”

Tim Farren, the Lib Dem leader said: If Mrs May had an “ounce of self-respect, she should resign”. Paul Nuttal, UKip, after losing from Bostan and Skegness, has resigned as leader. Big hopes are being pinned to Mrs May at a time when she has not yet comfortably settled at the head of her new government. The leader of the Scottish Conservative party, Ruth Davidson, herself a gay, says she has received assurances from the PM over gay rights should the Tories do a deal with DUP.

Such is the scenario of uncertainty in the wake of Mrs Theresa May’s search for certainty. Therefore, we are left with no alternative at the moment to wait and see which way the wind blows.

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