From Crisis to Crisis

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Posted on November 21, 2017

The Prime Minster has survived another harrowing week in which her government is being forced to manage the continual storm of crisis that has befallen them. Although totally wearying to her ability to control both the government and major events, the UK moves seamlessly from one crisis to another as a new crisis takes over.

The Prime Minister has now had to accept the resignations both of her Defence Minister for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ and her International Aid Minister for carrying out her own parallel foreign policy with Israel. What and whether No.10 knew or didn’t know about the International Aid Minister Priti Patel’s meetings in Israel and her visit to the disputed Golan Heights remains unclear, but she has resigned and followed her Defence colleague out of Cabinet. Two Ministers down in a week.

This occurs while the sexual harassment scandal in Parliament continues to unfold. A number of MPs are now being investigated and the Tory party whip has been suspended.

The PM too has remained embattled by two of her Cabinet Ministers, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, who have allegedly written to her spelling out what she must do to satisfy demands for a hard Brexit, i.e. just pull out. She is under pressure to sack Johnson, her Foreign Secretary, but will find it harder to control him from outside Government. In addition to their disagreements over Brexit, Johnson has been criticized for the handling of a very high profile consular case involving a UK/Iranian citizen who has been jailed in Iran.

Adding to the list of issues for the PM, the Paradise Papers have uncovered a number of high profile UK individuals and corporate institutions who have been implicated in the evasion of taxes by investing in tax havens.

Meanwhile, the Brexit project remains in the background, with both the EU and the hard Brexiters impatient to get the talks moving. The EU are sticking to the agreed process of sorting out the divorce bill and settling on the status of the EU and EU citizens’ rights before talking trade. Behind that, UK businesses are increasingly nervous about how they should or could adapt without knowing for certain where the UK will be in March 2019. The EU is now saying that they too are preparing for a no-deal Brexit as one of the options, although this is neither side’s preference. With the December EU Council meeting fast approaching, the EU is pressing for the three issues to be sorted. The UK may well find there is no progress this year before trade talks can start.

Prime Minister May is meeting EU business leaders today in an effort to reassure them. She will find it hard to be convincing without clarity on the future of the business relationship with the EU, especially given many of the companies represented have a large and important UK presence.

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