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.

The Panama Papers & David Cameron: How Tax Havens Hurt Nonprofits

(British Prime Minister David Cameron)

Tax policies – and the politicians that compose, debate, and codify them – affect nonprofits. From the IRA-to-charity rollover to deductions to incentivize philanthropy, tax polices in the United States have a direct impact on people’s giving behavior. When politicians make it simple for the wealthy to stash funds away in tax havens across the globe, they are indirectly cheating charitable organizations of invaluable revenue streams.

Across the Atlantic in Britain, this reality is no less true, and details emerging from the Panama Papers with regard to Prime Minister David Cameron’s family wealth and actions on behalf of offshore trusts have created an air of mistrust and the possibility of a conflict of interest.

Cameron’s late father – Ian Cameron – was a client of Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based offshore tax firm at the heart of the ongoing tax haven revelations. The elder Cameron set up an investment fund called Blairmore Holdings, Inc. through Mossack Fonseca. A prospectus released by the fund bluntly stated that it “should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the United Kingdom for United Kingdom taxation purposes.” It did so by utilizing an intricate system of untraceable certificates, called “bearer shares,” along with situating its officers in the Bahamas.

The behavior of David Cameron’s father is a reflection of how closely connected the world’s political and financial elite are to the tax avoidance schemes detailed in the Panama Papers. While there is not currently evidence that the prime minister was directly connected to the fund, the details shed some unsettling light on his efforts to shield trusts from an EU crackdown on tax shelters in 2013.

At the time, the EU was debating whether or not to publicly reveal a registry of actual asset holders at the helm of offshore shell companies. In a letter to Herman Van Rompuy – then president of the European council – Cameron stated that it

is clearly important we recognise the important differences between companies and trusts … This means that the solution for addressing the potential misuse of companies – such as central public registries – may well not be appropriate generally.

While it is yet uncertain if Cameron was acting on behalf of certain parties, a Downing Street spokesperson refused to answer questions from the press as to whether or not Cameron still held assets in his father’s former offshore interests.

The prime minister’s family history and actions are part of a larger trend. A culture of tax avoidance runs throughout elite circles in the Western world. In Britain, Michael Geoghegan – the former head of HSBC – attempted to shirk an £8 million tax on his luxurious townhouse, creating an elaborate offshore arrangement through which he could rent the house to himself using a shell company registered abroad. Geoghegan is among the highest profile leaders of the Brexit movement, which seeks to extricate Britain from the EU – the multinational body that is actively trying to clamp down on offshore tax havens.

This culture generates a rift between the ultra wealthy and the rest of society, depriving countries of important financial resources not only through the deprivation of tax dollars to fund government programs, but also by circumventing the system of incentivized charitable giving. Coupled with the fact that the tax havens exist in the same shadows that permit the actions of sanction-breaking firms selling energy to war crime-perpetuating governments – along with other forms of criminal behavior – and the continued existence of tax loopholes across the world is a menace to charitable organizations and their causes.

PricingPrivacy PolicyRefund Policy