Two grisly phenomena dominate the UK news for the time being. The UK general election, and UK/EU Brexit negotiation skirmishes. Are they by some chance related?

As of early May (sic), the Conservatives look set to do well and Labour badly. The UK Labour Party is now more decay than corpse, all sorts of virulent ideological maggots and bacteria (up to and including explicit anti-semitism) munching on its declining assets and reputation.

Some of the saner Labour Party stalwarts wonder whether a thrashing in the election will ‘bring the Party to its senses’ and compel a New Start. But as dutiful readers here know, there are only two issues in politics:

  • Who decides?
  • Who decides who decides?

In Labour’s case, the way the Party’s rules decide who decides allows nutty Left extremists a direct say in voting for the leader. But changing the rules to remove nutty Leftist extremists requires nutty Left extremists to agree those changes. Why should they? In any case, it gets horribly complicated. And gives handy slabs of Labour’s meagre funds to lawyers as different factions squabble about it all.

It gets even messier as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is rather a fan of Brexit: Brexit helps the UK escape the evil capitalist monster that is the European Union. So Labour can not even put clear water between itself and the Conservatives on that fundamental issue. Voters get bombarded by useless Brexit slogans instead. Hard Brexit! Soft Brexit! Clean Brexit! Short sharp shock Brexit! Slow gentle transitional Brexit! Fish-finger Brexit!

Meanwhile the European political elites try to work out what all this means. The EU-minus-UK have their Plan:

Policy makers arrived declaring that they were united in their approach to Brexit … Britain wouldn’t be allowed (sic) to be better off outside the bloc than inside it.

This of course is just what an abusive menacing husband says to his miserable wife who wants a divorce, and is usually condemned as such: “Stay with me – if you know what’s good for you…

In all the babbling and posturing, Theresa May seeks to present herself as the Reasonable Woman (even though such a category of person is not recognised by the law in England and Wales – see the far-reaching case of Fardell v Potts). Still, when the options boil down to a Labour leader who looks like something even the cat would not bring in, diehard Remainers and a fish finger, it is not difficult to present oneself as the most credible national leader available.

Theresa May today has ‘hit out’ at EU leaders meddling in the UK election:

“And in the last few days, we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be,” she said. “Britain’s negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press.

“The European commission’s negotiating stance has hardened. Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election which will take place on 8 June.”

“We continue to believe that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal. But we want a deal. We want a deep and special partnership with the European Union, and we want the EU to succeed.

“But the events of the last few days have shown that whatever our wishes and however reasonable the positions of the Europe’s other leaders, there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed, who do not want Britain to prosper.

“So now, more than ever, we need to be led by a prime minister and a government that is strong and stable, because making Brexit a success is central to our national interest.”

Not implausible.

That said, if she wins an enhanced Parliamentary majority that gives Labour a thumping that may threaten its continuing existence, the inevitable painful substantive differences over Brexit tactics and priorities and outcomes will simply move into her own Party. There will be many new Tory backbencher MPs and lesser forms of ministerial life with not much to do except make loud media noises of dissent.

In short, the sooner this ghastly election is over, the better. Then it all slows down for the summer and in the autumn the real UK/EU haggling finally starts. See next post.