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Mrs May: Acting against the national interest?

What she said, turned on her head?

Prime Minister Theresa May is determined to take Britain on a course to Brexit, but only six months ago she said it wouldn’t be in the country’s interest to do so.

Mrs May, then Home Secretary, said in a pro-Remain speech in April 2016:

“I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”

But now Mrs May is going to do something that only half-a-year ago she said clearly wasn’t the right thing to do.

Why hasn’t a journalist asked her why? What’s wrong with journalism today?

Quite likely if she had been asked, she would have replied with one of her stock answers, as she did in her speech yesterday at the Conservative Party’s annual conference:

“The referendum result was clear. It was legitimate. It was the biggest vote for change this country has ever known. Brexit means Brexit – and we’re going to make a success of it.”

So, does that mean, whatever your principles and beliefs, if people vote against them, you will then turn your principles upside down and on their head (in this case, on her head)?

On that basis, if Labour wins the next general election, shouldn’t Mrs May then join the Labour party?

In April this year Mrs May gave a speech of almost 6,000 words fully supporting Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. She said then:

“We export more to Ireland than we do to China, almost twice as much to Belgium as we do to India, and nearly three times as much to Sweden as we do to Brazil. It is not realistic to think we could just replace European trade with these new markets.”

“If we.. leave the European Union, we risk bringing the development of the single market to a halt, we risk a loss of investors and businesses to remaining EU member states driven by discriminatory EU policies, and we risk going backwards when it comes to international trade.”

“In a stand-off between Britain and the EU, 44 per cent of our exports is more important to us than eight per cent of the EU’s exports is to them.”

“Remaining inside the European Union does make us more secure, it does make us more prosperous and it does make us more influential beyond our shores.

“I believe the case to remain a member of the European Union is strong.

“I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”

Now Mrs May says:

“Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it. There will be no attempts to remain inside the EU.

“There will be no attempts to re-join it by the back door; no second referendum. As Prime Minister I will make sure that we leave the European Union.”

If someone tells you it’s a mistake to do something, and then goes ahead and does it, can you ever trust them again?

The late Tony Benn used to classify politicians as either ‘signposts’ or ‘weathervanes’.

  • Signposts indicate the way ahead, resolute and unchanging in the face of criticism or challenge.
  • But weathervanes spin on their axis, responding swiftly and unthinkingly to changes in the prevailing wind.

Is Mrs May someone who just swings in the wind, whichever way it blows?

Maybe if we blow hard enough, she and her ‘three Brexiteers’ will just fall over.


Other stories by Jon Danzig:

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