British Parliament in Turmoil … Again
Every time the path to Brexit appears to have reached peak turbulence, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister seems to ratchet things up a notch. Back in its inception, David Cameron famously called the referendum for the U.K. to leave the European Union and then immediately resigned when it seemed certain to pass. Theresa May then took the helm, only to present numerous exit plans that went nowhere, face numerous votes of no-confidence and then resign this past Spring.
Now it is Boris Johnson’s turn. Boris Johnson had been one of the faces of the “Vote Leave” campaign, which successfully convinced 52 percent of British voters to support withdrawal from the EU. When he was elected leader of the Conservative Party, many wondered whether drastic action finally would be taken to push Brexit through. Johnson’s rhetoric surrounding his election only reinforced this concern.
This all came to a head when Johnson suspended Parliament for five weeks. It was a tactic intended to give British members of parliament even less time to devise and pass a plan, but as with past Prime Ministers, Johnson’s strategizing appears to have backfired. Rather than solidify his chances of passing a deal, Johnson may have instead jeopardized his party’s status in Parliament.
With his various attempts at forcing the issue, Johnson has seen opposition from within his own party increase. Rather than attempt to resolve the conflict, he chose to eject them from the party. Some of those he kicked out were well-respected and historically influential Tories. One of them was the grandson of Winston Churchill.
Instead of operating with a parliamentary majority, Johnson now finds himself well below that threshold. Despite the initial expectations that this would lead to a general election, which can be called in the midst of a parliamentary term unlike in the US, this idea could be scrapped as opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has indicated his lack of support for such a motion.
There appears to be no end to the issues plaguing British politics, as every week reveals a new situation straining their political process. If there is no deal or resolution to this ideological battle, the country could see its economy and stability devastated by incomplete policy.
It’s worth noting that the U.K. taking such a plunge would affect the global economy. The danger of Johnson’s actions lies with their potential to cause problems for the entire region, which would filter down to the United States eventually.
GOP congressmen continue to exit
Yet another Republican House Representative announced they would not seek re-election this past Wednesday. Bill Flores, who has served Texas’ 17th congressional district since 2011, is part of a growing trend in the GOP.
President Trump’s behavior has polarized his party over the past few years, but many members of the GOP have gradually gravitated toward his ideals. Others, however, have sought ways to rebel. Justin Amash, a representative from Michigan, became famous on Twitter for his long rants in support of Trump’s impeachment.
Other defectors have been less vocal, relying more on symbolic gestures rather than explicit denouncement of the president. In August, Rep. Will Hurd released a statement that he would not be seeking re-election. Along with Bill Flores, that makes five GOP congressmen in Texas alone who have decided to step away from politics.
For those who wondered what the ramifications of Trump’s raucous behavior would be, it appears that a loss of political stalwarts is the answer. As more and more lawmakers struggle to operate under the Trump presidency, they’ve chosen to simply exit rather than unequivocally denounce their party. For the time being, it appears that this is the most they can offer in the form of resistance.
There are two interesting threads that could come of this. For starters, how many more will we see make their exit before midterm elections next year? The GOP has been struggling with appearing unified for the past year or so, and this will only be made more difficult by the loss of established names.
There is also the question of what seats they might lose. While Texas is a GOP stronghold, some seats have proven vulnerable in recent elections. Beto O’Rourke, now running for the Democratic nomination for president, ran a well-covered campaign to try to unseat Senator Ted Cruz, whose position had been considered rock-solid. The seat that Will Hurd retained in 2018 was only won with 48.7 percent of the vote, which means a good Democratic candidate could quite easily defeat whoever replaces him on the ballot.
The Trump presidency has introduced all sorts of unexpected elements to American politics. A significant GOP exodus was certainly not something expected to occur with a Republican in the Oval Office. It appears, however, that patience is finally wearing thin among the less vocal within the party.