Prime Minister Theresa May hopes that the new elections will strengthen her position in the Brexit negotiations in Brussels. But the British leader is mistaken, writes DW's Georg Matthes.
No one will be able to say that Britons did not have a choice. The snap elections in Great Britain serve as nothing more than a second Brexit referendum. It is a historic chance to set the record straight. Nothing has happened yet: the United Kingdom is still a member of the EU and has only sent Brussels a letter of intent. But one thing should be clear and that is that no one can say, "I didn't know what leaving the EU meant!" or, "I thought Turkey would soon be a member," or, "I didn't want the United Kingdom to fall apart and Scotland to leave!"
We have already put the "first vote, then think" logic behind us. Hours after the Brexit referendum, hundreds of thousands of Britons googled "What is the EU?" Please, let us not go through this again. The Brexiteers' myths have long been debunked. No one speaks of the billions for the NHS, the British healthcare system, that have apparently been flowing to Brussels instead.
Is that what Theresa May had in mind when she decided to call for snap elections? Surely not. Instead, she is seizing the opportunity to make use of her high opinion poll ratings. Once she enters into Brexit negotiations with the EU, the second "Iron Lady" may have to make concessions and it could cost her votes. This way, she hopes for a new mandate so no one can ask her in 2020 why the United Kingdom is still sending money to Brussels.
And that is what will happen. The parliamentary elections will delay the Brexit negotiations; she will certainly not exit from the Brexit. It would mean that the 48.1 percent of Britons who voted to remain in the EU would have to all back one party. There is no question that the Liberal Party in the United Kingdom is celebrating. The small and only pro-European force will win additional votes. But the Labour Party is currently in the midst of a crisis. It is highly unlikely that it will turn into a forum for the Remain camp.
If May seriously believes that an election victory will improve her negotiating position in Britain, she is making a mistake. After the elections, she will probably not even be able to use the threat of a hard Brexit she needs as bargaining chip.
In the meantime, Europeans can observe what the election campaign does to Brexit. One thing that the Brexit referendum has accomplished in Europe was raising awareness of the advantages Europe brings to the 27 member states.
This will also increase the EU's resilience in the negotiations. Brussels will not show generosity to the United Kingdom, and certainly not during the election campaign. Instead, clear responses and cold facts about the EU will be presented. This time, no one will be able to say that the EU silently stood on the sidelines when a shared future went down the drain.
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