Opinion: Brexit, lies and anarchy | Opinion | DW | 16.11.2018
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Opinion

Opinion: Brexit, lies and anarchy

Resignations, a potential leadership challenge and a dogmatic prime minister battling to save her Brexit deal have plunged London's political world into chaos. DW's Barbara Wesel says the lies are coming home to roost.

The ministers and deputies in Westminster had barely taken a look at the 585-page Brexit deal before the shock waves began to rock British Prime Minister Theresa May and her government in London.

For the most of them, it only took one look at the term "customs union" and the projectiles began to fly. Following an agonizing appearance in the House of Commons and a series of resignations, including that of Brexit Minister Dominic Raab, the prime minister — along with the whole edifice of British politics — was plunged into a state of chaos.

What a glorious Brexit...

Scornful laughter rang through Westminster when May declared that she had now negotiated a "smooth and orderly" Brexit. The deal is pure political poison. For friends of Europe, it brings too few advantages; for the Brexiteers, it is too close to the EU. The Scots feel ignored, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party demands equal treatment, and the opposition Labour Party hopes, above all, to overthrow the Tory government with the help of Brexit.

DW's Barbara Wesel

DW's European correspondent Barbara Wesel

But even in the face of fierce resistance, the prime minister once again proved her unrelenting stubbornness. Once the prime minister sets sail with an aim in sight, she can no longer be swayed from the course. Like a terrier, May latched on with a single bite that she continues to justify with a recurring litany of rhetoric.

Such as the declaration that her deal is in the "national interest" — or so goes the Brexit motto. A claim that she repeated a dozen times on Thursday as she battled for survival and tirelessly swore that her faith in this Brexit came from the heart.

Read more: How does a UK leadership challenge work?

Lies, lies, and more lies

Anyone who listened to May's pronouncements, her redemptive promise of jobs and of the prosperity and security that she wanted to guarantee for the country, inevitably came away with a clear conclusion: The easiest way forward now would be no Brexit at all. It would avoid Britain becoming the EU's vassal without voting rights. Economic catastrophe would be averted. Northern Ireland would be further pacified, and the common security policy saved. Life could be so simple.

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UK still deeply divided over Brexit

Instead, the prime minister preached to the public once again that her Brexit deal would maintain the benefits associated with EU membership. She continues to rave on about a wonderful future relationship with Europeans — a relationship that is far from settled. The heart of Brexit remains the grand delusion of its supporters.

Against her better judgment, May once again conjures up the mysterious advantages of Brexit that would supposedly one day benefit the British. She promises better schools and hospitals, but in reality their condition has nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with years of neglect from the conservative government.

As always, it's about power

And so May continues to confound "national interest" with the ideological spleen of the conservatives, where for decades there has been a European disease, one that has been gnawing away at the party from within.

Some may admire the fighting courage of the prime minister, but in reality, she is sacrificing the welfare of her country for the sake of her own leadership and the internal power struggle of the conservatives.

Should her own Brexiteers stab her in the back as they have threatened, the political downfall of May would be well deserved.

The future of the Brexit, however, still hangs in the balance. Nothing is official until the terms have been agreed upon, and agreed upon by all sides.

Four months before the planned exit date, the British have just enough time to avert certain disaster.

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