Brexit: What’s in Store for Next PM Theresa May?

(The Home Secretary and soon-to-be Prime Minister Theresa May)

It’s official.

Theresa May will be the next British prime minister. Following the departure of Andrea Leadsom from the Tory leadership race, May is poised to take over the reins from Cameron, who announced his intention to step down following the disastrous Brexit referendum vote that has plunged Europe and world markets into turmoil.

May’s task to extricate Great Britain from the European Union is no small matter. A first for the multi-national body since its foundation in 1958, one of its members will withdraw using Article 50, the legislative tool that British authorities will need to formally trigger in order to follow through with Brexit.

Those wises, however may have changed a bit over the past few weeks. As we discussed on The Tap, many British voters began regretting their decision to vote ‘no’ almost immediately after polling for the referendum ended. Talks of independence and unification are buzzing in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively, both of which voted to stay within the EU.

Enter Theresa May, the UK’s home secretary and soon-to-be prime minister. This Wednesday, Cameron will formally end his tenure, beginning the next chapter of the Brexit saga as May navigates the way forward as Prime Minister.

Since her entry into the British political scene as a parliamentarian in 1997, May has operated as a social liberal within her party, supporting equal pay for women and backing gay marriage. She strikes a much harsher line on immigration, for which she initiated draconian rules during her tenure as home secretary that have hurt the British economy and unduly burdened LGBTQ refugees.

May supported the ‘remain’ camp during the referendum, though in an halfhearted fashion. British political insiders consider this a deliberate strategy to position herself as a palatable leader for both the pro- and anti-Brexit camps within the party.

And make no mistake about it, she has every intention of following through with British voters’ shocking decision to leave the EU.

“Brexit means Brexit,” May has repeatedly said. In an interview with the BBC, she remarked that “as prime minister, I will make sure we will leave the European Union,” stating further that there will be “no attempts to remain inside the EU.”

She also maintains that Britain does not need to trigger Article 50 immediately. Pro-Brexit leaders are interested in delaying the process in order to negotiate the best deal possible to keep access to the EU market.

For its part, the EU has no interest in making things easy for Britain as it does not wish to send the message to other nations within the bloc – including struggling members such as Greece – that leaving is good idea with minimal consequences.

This could amount to a politically impossible position for May. As the drama over Brexit continues, we’ll see what path she takes from the current place of ambiguity and uncertainly she currently occupies.

Brexit is Bad News for the Environment

(Air pollution in London)

As the world begins piecing together the ramifications stemming from Britain’s exit from the EU (also known as Brexit), one particular victim of the ensuing political chaos is becoming increasingly apparent: the environment.

Around 70 percent of environmental regulation currently in place in Britain is the result of EU legislation. As British officials begin slashing away the body of EU regulations left over from the country’s membership, important regulations designed to lower carbon levels or promote conservation could be thrown out. The climate skepticism of the “leave” campaign’s chief proponents is a worrying indicator that David Cameron’s successor may very well preside over a government that does just that.

Boris Johnson – the former London mayor and leading “leave” member of the Tories – has published editorials dismissing climate change as a fabrication, and once argued that snow is evidence that climate change is a myth. Johnson could very will be top of the list of Tories to assume the role of prime minister.

The other primary driver for the “leave” campaign was UKIP, a rightwing nationalist party that has exercised xenophobia and racist fear mongering to achieve its political ends. Nigel Farage, the party’s leader, has openly expressed his desire to cut pollution limits on power stations.

Those in the “leave” campaign often cited the red tape of the EU as one of the primary motivations for Britain to leave the multinational body. Combined with their climate skepticism, they would likely enjoy seeing environmental regulations simply fall by the wayside along with the rest of the EU law that formerly applied to Britain.

Furthermore, Britain’s pledge in the Paris climate deal was included in the EU’s pledge. The nation would have to re-ratify the deal under David Cameron’s successor. If pro-Brexit politicians’ science-defying beliefs indicate anything, such a pledge may not be forthcoming.

Pro-environment forces in Britain will certainly keep up the fight for a cleaner, more secure future for the environment. Their job, however, may have gotten a bit tougher.

Brexit: A Blow to the Social Good

To the shock of much the world, Britons voted to leave the European Union (EU) on Wednesday, marking the largest blow to the multi-national political body since its foundation.

Spearhead largely by the fringe rightwing, the “leave” campaigners imbued their rhetoric with racist undertones, invoking immigration and refugees as reasons for Britain to withdraw from engagement with the European continent.

While there are certainly problems with the massive bureaucracy of the EU, the consequences of leaving are already in full force. The British pound hit a 31 year-low, as Britain fell from its place as the world’s fifth biggest economy and the FTSE 100 in London lost an astonishing £122 billion of value overnight. Abroad, the economic ramifications reverberated through markets everywhere, including in the United States, where the Down Jones average plummeted more than 500 points.

To further compound the issues facing Britain, there are renewed separatist stirrings within Scotland. Additionally, Sinn Féin – the Irish Republican party – has called for polling in Northern Ireland to gauge interest in unifying with Ireland. Both the populations of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted in favor of staying within the EU.

While Northern Ireland is unlikely to leave Britain anytime soon, the great surge in interest that the Scottish National Party (the leading driver for Scottish independence) has enjoyed in the wake of this week’s referendum indicates that the country may buck Great Britain and rejoin the EU of its own accord. This hypothetical disintegration within Great Britain would leave a greatly diminished England, with significantly less economic and geopolitical might.

Brexit is bad news for the Social Good. The European project – while imperfect – represents an ideal in which nations work together to forge solutions to issues facing the globe. With the number of displaced people and refugees at world historic highs, the threat of climate change growing by the day, and regional instabilities in Eastern Europe, the fracturing cooperation among European nations is a dark omen for what lies ahead.

If Google searches count for anything, many Britons are already regretting their vote. It appears, in fact, that many voters didn’t fully understand the EU when they went to the polls. The energy behind the “leave campaign” was largely derived from racist fear-mongering, as well as a distrust of elites and experts who warned of the consequences of Brexit. As Britain progresses along the rough road ahead, perhaps enough of its electorate will have a change of heart and reembrace international cooperation – if only for Britain’s own wellbeing.

Brexit: Racism Fuels ‘Leave’ Campaign

As the United States’ most bizarre general election campaign in recent memory has steamrolled forward at a fever pitch, Americans could be forgiven for overlooking events in Britain which – depending on how they turn out – may shake up international markets and fundamentally alter geo-politics for years to come.

That ignorance was completely understandable, that is, until last week when Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in public by a nationalist with links to neo-Nazi organizations.

Cox was a passionate anti-racist campaigner, whose philanthropic work included stints at Oxfam and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The attacker, Tommy Mair, announced his name in court as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

His rhetoric appears to imitate that of the pro-Brexit camp, which is pushing for the UK to leave the European Union (EU) through a referendum on June 23. Largely spearheaded by far-right elements in Britain’s political scene, the “leave” camp has invoked Syrian refugees and Islam in its quest to stir nationalistic fervor and abandon the European project.

The great majority of social and economic experts agree that a Brexit would be catastrophic not only for the British Isles, but for the rest of the developed world as well – including the United States.

The political uncertainly that would follow the single largest split from the EU since the project began would curtail global investment and international trade. Brexit could decrease the net economic output of the world’s advanced economies by half a percentage point by 2019. The IMF predicts that the UK’s depature from the EU would result in a decline of economic growth by 5.6 over the next three years.

For the United States, the head researcher at FIS – Laurence Wormald – predicts that a Brexit would send the S&P spiraling by 5 percent, and that the volatility of the broader stock market could reach 40 percent.

The clearly negative implications of a Brexit, however, hasn’t stopped The UK Independence Party (UKIP) – perhaps the largest driver of the pro-Brexit campaigning – from continuing its crusade. The party’s leader, Nigel Farage, has stood by the racist remarks of party members, underscoring the very real undercurrent of xenophobia that is behind the “leave” campaign. J.K. Rowling – author of the Harry Potter series – has accused Farage of deploying “Nazi propaganda” throughout the public debate on the referendum.

In addition to the concrete damages to the global financial system, the departure of one of the EU’s largest members could spell doom for the multi-national body, which has been credited for cooling diplomatic tensions in the historically volatile region following the cataclysmic events of World War II.

The Tap will bring you further coverage of the vote’s results this Wednesday, and analysis on how those results will impact the Social Good moving forward.

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