BRITAIN'S IDENTITY CRISIS

First Things | 5/1/2017 | John William Sullivan
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A revolution is taking place in Britain. Call it populism by default. To outsiders—and many insiders—the political house seems to be on fire. Brexit is the proximate cause, but the changes occurring are more profound. An enormous political realignment is afoot, sidelining Britain’s cosmopolitan and liberal elite, which has been supereminent ever since Margaret Thatcher destroyed its working-class enemies more than a generation ago.

The first signs of realignment came on the left, when Marxist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the recently defeated Labour Party. Once Corbyn was in place, the new youth wing—now called “Momentum”—turned on the old guard and started a political purge of the party’s centrists. As the Labour Party expanded, the Conservative Party continued to decline. This time last year, the Labour Party had a total membership of 540,000 people, while the Conservative Party had only 124,000.

Shrinkage - Right - Effect - Expansion - Conservative

Shrinkage on the right has had the same effect as expansion on the left: The Conservative Party has hardened ideologically. In the 1990s, there were about twenty anti-EU MPs. On March 30, 170 Conservative MPs signed a letter urging a No Deal Brexit.

The British elite, right and left, did not want Brexit, and insofar as the vote was lost, they have wanted a soft Brexit. At the same time, the Conservative Party base was overwhelmingly in favor of Brexit. The majority of the Conservative Party’s seats are held in England, which voted to leave the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. Recent polling suggests that 64 percent of Conservative Party members want a No Deal Brexit, while only 29 percent support a softer option. Theresa May was doomed because her power is divided.

Britain - Future - Brexiteer - Conservative - Party

Britain’s political future is unclear. Either a full-on Brexiteer leads the Conservative Party into the great unknown, or the country faces a series of potential...
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