As if to emphasize her growing isolation, Mrs. Theresa May stood at the Berlin chancellory alone. Her flight arrived early and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was a little late.
She started her week with a visit to Berlin and Paris, to meet German and French leaders. Her purpose was to ask for a second extension to Brexit, due on Friday, April 12th. The French president seemed reluctant to support her request, but is now supportive. Her biggest problem is going to be back home.
It’s not just the Queen who must be frustrated with parliament (see picture above), Mrs. May is presiding over the most divided parliament in living memory.
A friend of mine wrote from the UK: “What a shambles! The worst Prime Minister since Chamberlain, the most dysfunctional Parliament since Cromwell, the worst leader of the Labour Party ever, plus a rogue Commons Speaker. A recipe for a ‘perfect storm’.”
“Britain’s new departure date was set for October 31 in what was the EU’s second approval of an extension in less than a month. The UK will be able to leave earlier if it is able to ratify the withdrawal agreement reached between Mrs. May and the EU. The humiliating decision for Mrs. May leaves Britain facing elections within six weeks to the European Parliament. It will heap pressure on the prime minister from Eurosceptic Conservative MPs furious with her leadership and the postponement of Brexit.” (“EU leaders agree to six month Brexit delay.” Financial Times, 4.11)
A scripture that comes to mind through all this is: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25).
The country has never been so divided.
It seems as if Britain is incapable of standing up for herself.
The Daily Telegraph reports today that the fixation on a deal is not so much Mrs. May, but senior non-elected advisers in the government, who cannot imagine laving the EU without an agreement that binds the UK to it. The “deep state” in the UK is just as dangerous as it is in the US.
“Groveling Britain has officially surrendered to a triumphant EU,” wrote Andrew Lilico, in today’s Daily Telegraph (4/11).
“Theresa May will soon learn the terms of her latest Brexit extension, which Emmanuel Macron wants to make as punishing as possible. Why so? He’s in deep trouble at home, says Jonathan Miller, and thinks a bit of Brit-bashing will help.” (Fraser Nelson, The Spectator, 4/11/19).
“Brexit rolls on for another six months. Just after the stroke of midnight, EU27 leaders gave the UK a new Brexit fright night: October 31 (Halloween).“ (Mehreen Khan, Financial Times 4/11)
President Trump has warned the “brutal” EU that “it will all come back to bite you.” Mr. Trump has his own problems with the EU and is threatening $11 billion in tariffs on EU products. He may be surprised at how hard the EU can hit back!
LEGACY OF EU MEMBERSHIP
When Britain entered the EU in January 1973 (at the time it was the EEC – the European Economic Community), there were only six members (Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg). Today there are 28 (27 without Britain). It is doubtful many of the others would have joined if the UK had not signed up.
Additionally, Britain has been a net contributor, helping new (and poorer) members to grow economically. Britain has been at the forefront of creating an economic superpower. She is leaving at a time when the EU is strengthening ties, with the creation of a military union. In effect, Britain has created a (potentially) European military and political superpower, right on her doorstep.
At the same time, Britain handed over many of her former colonies, who signed up to the ACP Lome Convention. African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, tied themselves to the EU.
It’s difficult to see how Britain can recover from her EU membership, but the sooner she is out, the sooner she can make a start.
BREXIT’S IMPACT ON GERMANY
(Own report) – Germany’s Minister of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, warns of the consequences a “hard” Brexit would have on Germany, and sees the danger of the loss of “thousands of jobs.” Brussels and London must absolutely “prevent the big crash at the last moment,” declared Altmaier yesterday. The Federation of German Industries (BDI) had already warned that a hard Brexit could cost Germany a half-percentage point in growth – €17 billion this year alone. For months, think tanks have been pointing out that Germany would be the country most affected on the continent, if the United Kingdom makes an unregulated exit. Germany possibly may have to expect double-digit billions in annual losses. Most recently, the Bertelsmann Foundation assumed that the losses could be broken down to €115 per inhabitant of Germany. Those losses are looming at a time, when the German economy is in danger of slipping into a recession. Berlin and Brussels could prevent a hard Brexit by setting a time limit on the “backstop,” however, they are still hoping for a second referendum – and upping the ante. (German Foreign Policy, 4/4)
TRUMP ON THE EU
“Europe’s leaders have never felt more alone. Across the ocean, President Donald Trump has called the E.U. “a foe” of America, stalled a transatlantic trade deal while repeatedly threatening tariffs on European goods, and lashed out at NATO, the West’s cherished postwar project.” (Time)
MIDEAST CONFLICT WIDENS
- “The Yemeni revolution will not be confined to Yemen alone. It will extend, following its success, into Saudi territories.” — Iranian Lawmaker Ali Reza Zakani, trusted adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
- “If the Shia rebels gain control of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Iran can attain a foothold in this sensitive region giving access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a cause of concern not only for its sworn rivals Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states, but also for Israel and European countries along the Mediterranean.” — IDF Lt.-Col. (Ret.) Michael Segall
(“Is Iran winning in Yemen?” – Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, 4/11/19)
NETANYAHU VICTORY – LONGEST SERVING ISRAEL PM
Prime Minister Benjamin Ntanyahu has won a record fifth term as Israel’s prime minister, in spite of corruption charges laid against him.
Victory for the conservative prime minister is another sign that the “left” in Israel has effectively ceased to exist. His primary opponent, Benny Gantz, was also conservative and hawkish on defense. He came in a close second.
HAGIA SOPHIA TO BE CONVERTED INTO A MOSQUE
Addressing a rally ahead of the March 31 municipal elections in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to convert the Hagia Sophia museum, originally a Byzantine cathedral, into a mosque.
Erdogan repeated this statement the following day during a televised interview. “Hagia Sophia will no longer be called a museum,” he declared. “Its status will change. We will call it a mosque.” (Gatestone, 4/7)
THE POPE AND WALLS
“I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges” has long been Pope Francis’s mantra.
Most recently, when asked last Sunday “a question about migration in general and about U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the southern border with Mexico,” the pope pontificated in platitudes: “Builders of walls,” he said, “be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build . . . With fear, we will not move forward, with walls, we will remain closed within these walls.”
Less than a week earlier, Pope Francis lectured the mayor of Rome about the need to be more welcoming to Muslim migrants. “Rome,” he declared, “a hospitable city, is called to face this epochal challenge [Muslim migrants demanding entry] in the wake of its noble history; to use its energies to welcome and integrate, to transform tensions and problems into opportunities for meeting and growth.”
“Rome,” he exulted, “city of bridges, never walls!”
The grand irony of all this is that Pope Francis lives in the only state to be surrounded by walls—Vatican City—and most of these bastions were erected to ward off centuries of Islamic invasions.” (“A lesson for Pope Francis on walls and Muslims,” by Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East Forum, 4/2).