Can Theresa May learn from Arlene Foster’s folly?

Across the corridors of power in Europe few mainstream leaders are more unpopular than  Theresa May, the parochial and divisive nationalist from England’s home counties.

Britain’s premier is resented by her domestic opponents for acting as Tory leader first and UK Prime Minister second. Within the EU, the perception among May’s former European partners and allies is one of reckless naivety, at best.

As the countdown to formal UK- EU divorce negotiations begins to end, Britain’s leader stands alone and defiant. A unique and brave strategy, perhaps. But then who needs goodwill or allies when you have the subtly of Paul Dacre and foresight of Ian Duncan Smith in your corner?

Whatever else Theresa may be, she is clearly no student of Dale Carnegie.

Since the BrExit vote on June 23rd, 2016, May’s substance-lite, electioneering heavy approach to the coming divorce negotiations has alarmed many, including former Conservative Prime Minister John Major who described it thus.

Obstacles are brushed aside as of no consequence, whilst opportunities are inflated beyond any reasonable expectation of delivery.”

It remains unclear whether May’s rhetoric is a calculated, disciplined attempt to court the approval and cooperation of the Daily Mail editorial board, steward her party, and protect against a populist right flank in England, or the fantasy wet dream politics of an jingoistic Tory cabinet unmoored from reality and unchecked by an opposition party worth the name.

Clearer, however, is the mounting political cost of this belligerent approach, within the UK and across the EU.

As the Republic of Ireland moves towards elections, those European corridors may soon become considerably more hostile to Mrs. May and her hard BrExit anti-EU government.

Should Sinn Féin emerge as Fianna Fáil’s government partners in Ireland’s next dáil, shifting the entire political gravity across Ireland in the process, consider the scene change in Ireland, between Ireland and Britain, and in Brussels.

At time of writing, the Irish Taoiseach is Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny.

With formal divorce negotiations about to begin later this month, Britain’s much-needed EU friends, sympathizers, and pragmatists, like Ireland’s moderate Fine Gael party, are exasperated. (She’ll miss them when they’re gone from office at the moment she needs them most.)

Fine Gael has been caught off-guard (in fairness, who hasn’t?) by May’s choice of behavior. Alarmed and increasingly resentful of a British Prime Minister who seems either unaware or unconcerned with the consequences of her tub-thumping approach, goodwill is thinning. Witness the ineffectiveness of Fine Gael’s quiet diplomacy; cringe at Downing Street’s French wave response to their invite to address Dáil Éireann.

To a European party like Fine Gael whose entire brand proposition is ‘less empty politics, more sober, measured policy’, Theresa May’s tenure is disconcerting and a gift to their domestic political opponents.

Sinn Féin have a rather different political modus operandi to Fine Gael. The tunnel vision similarities to Prime Minister May’s approach are striking.

As Fine Gael and the broader Irish establishment reel from and react to May, Sinn Féin is built to recognize and exploit what May’s politics represent: A political marketing opportunity par excellence.

Put it this way. If Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s recently unseated blustering First Minister, governed and spoke as though she had been purpose-built by Sinn Fein’s marketing and elections department, then Prime Minister May represents an upgrade – their ideal model.

Like Foster, May revels in theatrically provoking the feelings of those who do not share her particular brand of British nationalism. Her followers relish such moments.

But so do her opponents, their numbers gathering, their day coming.

Unlike Foster, May has the capacity to materially alter and injure their quality of life too.

Northern Ireland’s March 3rd snap election just demonstrated the electoral price attached to Foster’s obtuse shannanigans. The electoral costs, across Ireland, of May’s wrecking ball approach are unlikely to be minor either.

The formula is uncomplicated. As May’s government hurts Sinn Féin’s voters and potential voters, north and south, so must Sinn Féin’s domestic rivals, particularly Fianna Fáil, adopt more traditionally nationalistic platforms.

This is not the trajectory of Irish politics compatible with Theresa May’s optimum EU negotiating environment.

Yet, like Foster, on she blunders convinced her new Jerusalem beckons.

Since the 1998 Belfast Agreement, Sinn Fein has spent the past 19 years campaigning in each of the country’s 32 counties against an Irish border that barely existed.

Today, thanks to Arlene Foster and her BeExit friends, and Theresa May and her glorious isolation,  everyone in Ireland is talking about that border.

Soon, every government in Europe will be negotiating its status.

The immediate question is this. As the governments of the EU gather to agree a negotiating position, will the new Irish delegation include an emboldened Sinn Fein presence that represents an all-Ireland mandate?

  • Skibo

    We can only force an assembly election. I suggest it could be used as a test for the requirements of a border poll. If the negotiations go bad, the only way we can have access to the EU market is through reunification. The soft unionist vote and the centre ground is going to have to decide on whether the flag or the economy is the most important to protect.

  • John Devane

    Scotland wasn’t misold its place in the union and I think they’d vote today to Remain within the UK out of national self interest.
    The DUP are the authors of their own misfortune.

  • John Devane

    You talk as if there is no danger in remaining within the EU. All decisions have consequences. I just believe there is no meaningful future for any Independent national democracy in an EU that is corrupt, poorly run, banjaxed with an unsustainable Euro, open borders, mass migration, basket case economies and ever more ambitious for political union.

    I doubt very much Ireland is as pro EU as you obviously are because you see no downside with EU membership. It’s a market that exacts a huge political price

  • John Devane

    Brexit means Independence from the EU jackboot. You seem to be too eager to embrace being politically smothered by the EU. A token Independence

  • John Devane

    I suspect you have run out of argument

  • John Devane

    Double standards? Nope just saying as I see it. I have no dog in this race. I just don’t believe the Scots will vote to leave the UK. They haven’t been radicalised sufficiently to do so

  • John Devane
  • John Devane

    Then I suggest you are deaf to the ever closer political union the EU is dead set on achieving

  • John Devane

    So you’d sacrifice UK Independence because WTO tarriffs are not acceptable to you?

  • John Devane

    This assumes a Machiavellian approach by both sides. It’s pure conjecture and doesn’t support your case against Brexit

  • Annie Breensson
  • Annie Breensson

    one viewpoint published in a tory-centric newspaper does not prove anything

  • Fear Éireannach

    I’m Eastern Irish myself, but that it not a national identity.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It may hurt but I don’t have to deal with the delusions in your head John. You can pay people to help you, I study physics not psychology.

    Deal with the world as it is, not how John Devane wants it to be.

  • John Devane

    I do deal with the world as it is whereas you can only offer your condescending insults. Try to play the ball Kevin not the man.
    What part of ever closer political union do you not understand? That’s where the EU is headed for and you like it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The ball is the man since you brought an imaginary scenario into play.

  • John Devane

    Imaginary scenario? That’s your game. And a poor excuse for your inability to argue issues. You just go for pathetic insult which is a poor substitute for counter argument. I just do not share your unquestioning love for the EU

  • aquifer

    Red lines? keep repeating elections until they get the rubber out.

  • aquifer

    Having the dollar as everybody else’s reserve currency as your economy shrinks and your debt rises?
    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/dollar-global-dominance-unsustainable-by-carmen-reinhart-2017-03

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’d prefer to deal with my imaginary stuff in quaternion form, at least it wouldn’t be so one dimensional as your posts seem to be.

  • John Devane

    And you believe the Euro is in good shape to even survive?

  • John Devane

    Skibo the Euro is doomed without full fiscal union.
    Even in your ideal situation the EU will evolve into ever closer political union. At what point will Ireland say enough is enough?

  • aquifer

    At its current valuation quite possibly. It is a question of relative risk. The US government, by underwriting dollar property loan defaults in Florida, is the world’s biggest flood insurance company, and by also giving tax relief on loans for mcmansions, is piling up big trouble for any global downturn.

    Do you trust a bought US congress more than EU technocrats?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    No. I’m just tired of making the same points again and again to someone who refuses to engage with them.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    For the last time – will you try to get this into your head:

    In the UK Scotland’s political representation is nullified because the number of Scottish MP’s is not nearly sufficient to ever carry their policies, formulated in Scotland’s interests, forward.

    Do you seriously suggest that that is a sustainable position.

    In the EU Scotland will have a vote, a voice and a veto – none of which we effectively have in the UK.

    Scotland is currently the 12th largest economy in the EU and 24th largest in the world.

    Why is it reasonable for us to be over-ruled CONSTANTLY, as the last remnant of a defunct empire, by another country with increasingly different values? And why would anyone with a vestige of sense agree to it?

  • John Devane

    Because the voters do not share your confidence in Scotland even being able to join the EU, make Independence an attractive economic option, forced to use the Euro if membership was even granted, lose the block payment…..

    There is a long list why voters in Scotland are unlikely to make the leap into the unknown.

  • John Devane

    The Euro will not replace the US dollar as the world currency. The Euro is a political currency with an inherent structural weakness. Without full fiscal union it is more likely to be crushed or at least paired down in size in any future global downturn

  • John Devane

    Yes best you retreat into your own mind than actually try to express a coherent case for your unquestioning support for the EU. You want a united states of Europe. That’s the truth.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You care more about people singing Ode to Joy than any real problems like higher unemployment, than increased austerity, fewer opportunities for young people or increased problems within Ireland.

    You can die happy now, and I would suggest now, because frankly no one needs your pointless paranoia, not even in Reading. You basically wanted to destroy your country quite literally for a song.

  • Ciarán Doherty

    Every superstate started this way, your resistance to it is nothing but petty nationalism, you just can’t bare to accept that your culture isn’t so unique as to be incompatible with the others in Europe and your country (and by that I mean your neglected satellite of England within the moniker of “Britain”) is no more significant than plenty of others on the continent.

  • John Devane

    Haha you really are rattled Kevin. Don’t take disagreements so personally. I care I just don’t share your EU solution.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think it’s very clear you are still very paranoid about politically pointless things like songs and imaginary superstates, and typically like many in my generation we’re just going to be forced to clean up after the pointless mess you created.

    So thanks but no thanks for your input. 30 years after Brexit assuming you don’t kill yourself before then, I would say you would still have the same mental problems but still not realised you’ve voted for something of absolutely no benefit whatsoever.

    Maybe you’ve just watched a Clockwork Orange too many times.

  • John Devane

    Ciaran this is not about defending British culture or some supremacist movement. Remoaners like to portray Brexit as right wing and racist. No doubt there are those with those views that voted Brexit. Not 17.4 million; that takes something more substantial.
    An EU superstate is not going to work. Why go down this political union road to nowhere? What was wrong with an EEC trade block?Why this one size fits all Euro, Schengen, open borders? Where do you see it going?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Get help John, if you came on this forum to try to win people over to your side of the arguement it’s clear you’ve failed miserably. Go back to fixing electrical sockets and fuse boxes while you still have a job to go to and stop ranting about some EU superstate that only exists in your imagination.

    I disagree with Ciarian about you being a petty nationalist, because at the end of the day I doubt you care about your nation or the people in it, you seem to only care about your fixations.

  • John Devane

    Win people over? Far from it. I state my opinion whether you agree or not. Likewise I’m sure.
    Your insulting condescension is the hallmark of your input on this talk board when confronted with disagreement. It says more about you than any of your EU loyalist opinions.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Absolutely, they were fictional to begin. We can also brush aside Chicken Little’s Falling Sky and Don Quioxte’s windmills in the same manner.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    If you had the faintest clue about what we are discussing, you would know that the Euro can only be used by countries which fulfil the criteria for doing so – Sweden, for example, has been putting it of for decades now. Scotland would only use the Euro if we wanted to.

    You would also know that prominent EU figures have indicated that there would be no obstacle to a quick and trouble free re-entry of Scotland to the EU once independence was achieved.

    The first independence campaign started from a low number and reached 45% – this time we are starting from a much higher base, and the Yes campaigning hasn’t even started yet. Add to that the near certainty that Brexit will force May into a low-wage, cut-throat economy with the NHS being sold off to privatising US firms, and only a complete fool would stick with the UK. May’s arrogant and intransigent attitude helps immensely (as does your in a much smaller way).

    All in all you need to learn a bit more about the relevant facts before you post this sort of poor stuff which, if you had done a bit of research, you could have found out yourself (having first taken the Unionist blinkers off, of course).

  • John Devane

    The only person resorting to insult as a substitute for reasoned argument is you and that speaks volumes about you.
    The path to EU entry, In the unlikely event Scotland has voted for independence, is far from straight forward. Spain will not like a precedent set for Catalonia. New member states must also adopt the Euro.
    There are many obstacles ahead but no one is saying Scotland cannot be Independent. I just don’t think think it will vote for it. You do.

  • John Devane

    The EU is unique in that, over a wide spectrum of policy, it acquires powers previously exercised by sovereign states. It has gradually dispensed with many of the ‘inter-governmental’ aspects and replaced these with the EU’s legally-binding ‘community’ powers. The statement in the Preamble of successive EU Treaties “to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe” is evidence of the ultimate ambition to create an EU state.

    G Van Orden MEP

  • Kevin Breslin

    You don’t have an opinion, you have an axe to grind. I bet Reading must be a miserable place to live if it’s full of people chasing windmills, phantom foreigners and blaming beaurocrats for their lower dopamine levels when it probably was alcoholism all along.

  • John Devane

    You just cannot abide anyone holding an opinion you do not share.

    However, I now understand nationalist pro EU loyalty is driven more by the facts on the ground in Ireland ref: the border. Brexit may possibly mean a hard border if the EU wants it; plus it’s an opportunity to advance an all Ireland solution or at least get it back on the table.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Again, as has been pointed out by numerous commentators, Spain can and will have no problem with Scotland joining the EU if the UK secedes – it is an entirely different scenario from the UK staying in and Scotland leaving both to then attempt to re-join. New member states do NOT have to adopt the Euro – it is impossible unless you meet the requirements, as I said above, and which you obviously failed to comprehend (!!!!) Sweden has not yet joined and seems to have no intention of doing so. If you continue to disregard proven out-in-the-world facts like that, I can only draw the conclusion that you are trolling. As I have already said, you could have found this out yourself with minimal effort – but you obviously don’t want any reality to creep into your fantasy world.

    For a person with “no dog in the race” you seem uncommonly dedicated to opposing Scottish independence. As those of your ilk common suppose Scotland to be a drain on English taxpayers, pray tell me, what is the reason for wishing Scotland to stay in the UK?

    On consideration don’t bother to reply to my question – I believe from your refusal to recognise facts that you are in fact a troll, and I see no point in feeding you further.

  • John Devane

    Your definition of a troll is someone who disagrees with you and your presumed “facts”
    I am not trolling you or anyone on this talk board. A message appears via email and eventually I respond to it. Try not taking disagreement so much to heart.
    I am not convinced the Scottish voters will opt for independence 2.
    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.ft.com/content/1c22aada-ef73-11e6-930f-061b01e23655

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    It is not the disagreement that leads me to believe you are trolling – it is your consistent disregard of published information, such as the conditions for adopting the Euro, and your insistence that you are right, and not the various sources of such information. Classic trolling, even if you don’t want to admit it.

    No more food now.

  • John Devane

    You mean your sources. There is a difference. EU membership for a newly Independent Scotland., if it happens is not as straight forward as you make out. That’s not me saying I’m right all the time either, it’s you.

  • John Devane

    No Annie it’s just an informed opinion which you disagree with because?

  • Kevin Breslin

    John, you cannot argue reasonably here. You’re out of your depth. If you want to believe your own delusions about Brexit then by all means help your own in Reading be trading superstars or whatever Hannah Montana fantasies you’ve got in your head right now to help them.

    Don’t worry about us. We frankly won’t worry about you.

    If you die from an overdose from lack of personal validation on this forum, I did the best to tell you to get help.

  • John Devane

    Haha you’re the one that needs help with your self inflated ego. I OTOH do not require validation. I’m genuinely interested in other points of view, even your own.
    And yes I am on here to see for myself why nationalist opinion is so pro EU. Is it pro EU for political expediency and / or because you see only the upside of continued EU membership.
    The fact you have to continually make irrelevant personal jibes makes little difference. I don’t engage with that nonsense. It’s just robust argument that draws out your position. For me that’s a positive

  • Kevin Breslin

    If I need validation it would not be from the likes of you.

    P.S You have engaged with that nonsense. 😀

  • John Devane

    The likes of you. I have a category in your mind? So be it. To me it’s just an exchange of opinion.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Likes of You, I would say are Uninformed English nationalists.

    Nobodies who have nothing to offer their home nation and have completely no will to change themselves.

  • John Devane

    There is no denying English nationalists voted for Brexit but you know yourself that’s not the whole picture.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I just think you’re just another English nationalist who voted for Brexit.

    As far as I’m concerned that is your whole picture.

    Maybe you need to come to terms with your own nationalism perhaps?

    Until then go away nobody.

  • John Devane

    I’ll be supporting Ireland on Saturday so maybe you’re right

  • Kevin Breslin

    Thought Wales were no longer rivals to England winning the Six Nations. 😉

  • John Devane

    P.S.S not intentionally. 😋

  • Skibo

    The Euro is actually quite stable and has been for a while. We are doomed Captain Mainwaring, doomed.
    Come back to me when you have some actual facts. Till then you are merely a gong booming or a cymbal clashing and making as much sense.
    Facts and figures Sir, everything else is as useful as leading your life by the horoscope published in the red top papers.
    One fact for you to start with, The Euro is the second most traded currency in the world and is the worlds second largest reserve currency.
    Now take on board that the most traded currency in the world is the US Dollar as it is the currency oil is bought and sold in.

  • Skibo

    John politics is ingrained in the Machiavellian approach. It is the basis of all politics and most business deals. Do you really expect tea and biscuits?
    All I was trying to point out is the UK needs the continuous free access to the EU market and particularly the financial end. This is always the most difficult part of trade negotiations and in most cases is not included in trade agreements. Where they are, the conditions are so onerous they are not worthy of the title of free.
    80% of the UK economy is services with Finance being the most important.

  • Skibo

    UK independence is not under attack. Where has the independence of the UK been impeded?

  • Skibo

    “But arguably the biggest challenge the EU-Canada deal poses as a potential model for UK-EU relations after Brexit is that it only grants limited services liberalisation – by no means comparable to being a member of the single market.”
    from http://openeurope.org.uk/today/blog/what-could-the-eu-canada-free-trade-deal-tell-us-about-brexit/
    Did you actually read your post or just look at the headline?
    This is the City of London professionals saying that for the EU to try and poach their financial services may backfire.
    They suggest to remove it from London may in effect result in it moving further to New York or Singapore. So the trade would be lost to Europe. If the UK is not within the EU, that does not affect the EU.
    One thing they do point out is 1/3 of the City’s financial trade is with the EU. That is a hell of a loss if the UK cannot achieve full free access and that does not seem possible without free movement of people.
    Can you list me any country that has full free access to trade including services without the free movement criteria?

  • Skibo

    Whats with all the negative vibes man!
    Have a look at some of the polls about EU membership for Ireland. You may find I am not in the minority you believe.
    Finally can you give me some firm facts and figures or even some mildly made-up ones to show me that the EU is corrupt, poorly run etc etc etc.
    All the descriptions you have given, I as a person who lives in NI could give to the UK and how it treats the rest of the country. Where you see Germany, I see London and the South East.
    Is it really a market that exacts a huge price? The cost is around the extra over that Westminster spends on the upkeep of NI, if you believe the figures the DUP throw out!

  • Skibo

    I suggest you go back and read the reports before and after the Indyref.
    Scotland was told her place in the EU was only guaranteed through the UK membership.
    Many promises were made after the referendum about increased democracy. All was reneged on shortly after and here, England is dragging Scotland out of the EU against her will.

  • John Devane

    And after Sotland rejected Independence a UK wide referendum rejected the EU. I suggest you check your facts not your desired narrative

  • John Devane

    Skibo try sticking to issues because your charactures are so inaccurate. Brexit you oppose yet from a nationalist pov it’s a catalyst for the ultimate aim?

    Anyway the Euro is a political currency. It has systemic problems that have yet to be addressed

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.ft.com/content/dbbd151c-62f4-11e6-8310-ecf0bddad227

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    What! Even more power still! But we were promised at the last referendum that we would have the “most powerful devolved administration in the world” Where are these amazing extra powers going to come from.

    But it was all a lie anyway. It has been pointed out by a number of people recently that other devolved authorities have much more powerful administrations than Scotland.

    As for the £9bn a year – it always amazes me that Westminster is so keen on supporting Scotland. The NHS, the Prison Service, the Police, Healthcare etc. can be run into the ground with never a care in the world, but Scotland’s £9bn – keep handing it out to them, it’s only money.

    So either the £9bn is mythical, or they are getting their money’s worth and more. Which implies that Scotland would do well to be free of this bunch of devious arrogant creeps.

  • Skibo

    I have no issue with Brexit being dangerous for the NI economy and will shout it from the rooftops.
    I do not accept that the Euro is unstable or that it will collapse. It is the second most traded currency in the world. That has to give it some level of status. Sterling is fourth while the UK was within the EU and relatively stable. Large fluctuations will see a reduction in trade in sterling.
    The level of the dollar is steadied largely by the trade in oil.
    I could not open your link. Looking me to buy a subscription for the FT.

  • John Devane

    The link is really good. It completely blows your argument apart and would leave you speechless. It’s a shame you can’t open it.

  • Skibo

    John is there any other way I can access it? I do not believe in ignoring information if it is from a credible source and the FT should be credible.
    Tell me did the FT predict the banking crash?

  • John Devane

    Skibo I tried to cut n paste it but this time I also was met with the subscription page. I think I have access to a couple of free pages per month.
    Anyway my response was more tongue in cheek. The gist of the article was the Euro was more likely to split or cease to exist without reform. I’m sure you’d still manage to conjure up an argument in its defence

  • Skibo

    John I was fit to pick it up another way and will have to read it later.
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/22/the-euro-and-its-threat-to-the-future-of-europe-joseph-stiglitz-review
    If you read a bit more into it Joseph Stiglitz is actually in favour of keeping the Euro going. He has proposed a possible two phased Euro but not sure how that would work.
    He actually advises closer harmonisation of the tax rates and burden sharing i.e. a more social Europe.

  • John Devane

    Yes I read his proposal. A more social EU requires more integration. If the EU was to become a truly federal union like the USA then the Euro could work. Is there the political will for say Germany to bail out Italy? I doubt it. The other alternative is a smaller eurozone comprised of member states minus the basket cases.
    The downside is the new Euro will require national democracies hand over even more powers to Brussels.

    The implications for Ireland are obviously going to be less control of its own affairs IMHO

    http://euforum.nl/en/social-europe-isnrt-that-social-and-undermines-eu-support