Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn: Britain’s Unlikely Leaders

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Exactly two years ago, I don’t think anyone would have envisaged the political climate as it stands today. David Cameron and Ed Miliband were preparing to fight an important General Election in May 2015, which was billed as the most unpredictable of recent times, and a potential for days of negotiations to form a coalition. Yet spectacularly, the Tories managed to defy the polls to win an overall majority. With David Cameron forced to follow through with his election promise of an EU Referendum, he did so far too quickly. The rushed negotiations meant he could hold the referendum in Summer last year, yet they failed to provide adequate leverage to convince Euroskeptics of remaining in the EU. But still, no one predicted that the Leave campaign would win the night. And so, these two embarrassing defeats for Labour (the General Election) and the Tories (the EU Referendum) has led to two of the most unlikely people becoming Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

Labour opted for a huge lurch to the left with Jeremy Corbyn. Something that has proved detrimental to their electability. There has been defeat after defeat, shrinking vote shares and even a failed leadership coup, yet still Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the party. With Corbyn as leader, Labour simply will not be able to achieve enough votes for government and in fact looks set to suffer an embarrassing and historic defeat should an early general election be called soon. But who else is there? The Blairites were defeated, Corbyn’s closest challenger in 2015 has now set his sights on becoming Manchester’s Mayor, and the best leadership challenger that could be found was a nobody called Owen Smith. And so, the Shadow Cabinet is filled with unknowns or unpopular politicians (such as Diane Abbott). Corbyn and his Shadow Cabinet are one of the weakest oppositions for quite some time. With the mess the Tories are making of the country, any capable leader and opposition would have a field day at PMQs and during Parliamentary Debate. Instead, we’ve got the Tories having free reign on the country to do whatever they want and still pulling ahead in opinion polls because the prospect of the opposition in even worse!

Speaking of the Tories, the unelected Theresa May remains at the helm with no obvious popular challenger or successor as of yet. So far her tenure as Prime Minister has seemed pretty uneventful as we wait for the Brexit negotiations to begin. It’s sad that other aspects of public governance have gone into irrelevance due to Brexit, which we are still no closer to compared with a year ago despite the vote to Leave. The government’s decision to reject the Single Market is their biggest failure yet. It seems absurd following a close result in the EU Referendum to then ignore 48% of the population, plus a further few percent who would have supported the Single Market but no the EU, by opting for a Hard Brexit. Such a decision should have been taken, once again, by the British public. Maybe it’s too harsh to pin the blame too much with May. She still has been in office for only 8 months and inherited quite a messy situation from David Cameron and George Osborne. The danger of a weak opposition is that she is getting away with stalling on decisions. Theresa May has a mammoth task ahead of her, I still think it might be too early to judge her, but if she continues at her current rate the country could end up in an even bigger mess. Right now she holds a very powerful position within the country to make a real difference, let’s hope she uses it wisely as we edge closer to Article 50 being triggered.

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