terça-feira, 12 de julho de 2016

Theresa, meet Angela / 6 things to expect from Theresa May’s premiership

Theresa, meet Angela
Both leaders hold impressive academic credentials, are childless, enjoy hiking and rose to top of male-dominated conservative parties. But Brexit will divide them.


If nothing else, Theresa May’s emergence Monday as the U.K.’s next leader gives Europe much of the clarity it has demanded in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

Just don’t expect anyone in Paris, Brussels or Berlin to break out the champagne.

While many officials regard May, who supported the Remain camp, as the lesser of the various evils that could have emerged from the Tory leadership contest, they see little chance of Brexit being reversed once she takes control.

The incoming prime minister doused whatever remaining hopes there were for such an outcome Monday morning with her declaration that “Brexit means Brexit.”

“There will be no attempts to remain inside the EU. We must leave the European Union and forge a new role for ourselves in the world,” May said in a speech delivered just hours before her remaining rival withdrew from the race, clearing the way for May to become prime minister this week.

Both Merkel and May have a reputation for putting pragmatism ahead of ideology.
Most of the EU’s key leaders had already come to terms with that reality. However, a bigger question on their minds than ‘whether’ is ‘when.’ That is, when will the U.K. invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to set in motion the process of withdrawal?

Brussels, in particular, is eager to press forward in order to settle the issue of the U.K.’s status, uncertainty some worry could paralyze the bloc’s ability to function.

May offered no specifics on timing but the stridency of her remarks suggested she’s not eager to wait.

At the core of the waiting game is the question of what kind of post-Brexit arrangement the U.K. will have with the EU. European leaders have insisted repeatedly in recent weeks that talks over allowing the U.K. access to the EU’s common market can only begin after the two-year divorce procedure has been completed.

Pastors’ daughters

May’s first challenge as prime minister will be to soften the EU’s resistance to a more universal deal. U.K. officials are likely hoping German leader Angela Merkel will help grease those skids.

Media in both countries have focused on the unlikely parallels between the two women.

Roughly the same age, both are daughters of protestant pastors and grew up outside the glare of the big city. They both have impressive academic credentials, are childless and said to enjoy hiking with and cooking for husbands they’ve been wed to for decades.

Behind their austere official persona lies a sharp wit, rarely seen by either the public or the press, for which they share a deep distrust. Each has a reputation for putting pragmatism ahead of ideology.

The most important similarity of all, however, is the most obvious: Both succeeded in climbing to the top of male-dominated conservative institutions in an age when such ascents for women of their generation remain rare.

Still, whatever personal sympathy Merkel may harbor for new British counterpart will be tempered by the necessity of maintaining consensus among Germany’s key EU allies, especially France.

Germany, which sells more cars to the U.K. than to any other country, has no shortage of economic arguments for finding an amicable solution that would keep Britain in the single market.

“Valls knows her well. They have a lot of respect for each other” — French government official
France’s Socialist leaders are likely to be less accommodating.

French connection

President François Hollande, who is doing his best to rein in Euroskeptic forces at home, warned after Britain’s vote to leave that the country would face consequences for its decision.

For now, there is little need to attack Britain publicly — financial markets and political turmoil are providing all the ammunition French Europhiles need to argue against leaving the EU.

In addition to their desire to make an example of the U.K. for other would-be exiters, French leaders also want to benefit from Brexit by luring City of London bankers to Paris.

Yet Europe’s leaders also realize the risks of backing the U.K. into a corner. If May doesn’t succeed in securing an attractive deal for the U.K., whoever replaces her could be much less to the EU’s liking. Given the deep economic and security ties between the countries, a disorderly Brexit is the last thing anyone wants.

U.S. President Barack Obama raised those concerns with EU leaders at meeting in Warsaw on Friday. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who is not known for taking a soft line on the Brexit question, took pains to reassure the American president, saying the talks wouldn’t be “hostile.”

“It’s in our interest and the global interest to keep Britain as a strong ally,” Juncker said at a press conference with Obama after their meeting.

May’s biggest obstacle in dealing with EU leaders is that few know her. As the U.K.’s home secretary, she has had little exposure to key figures such as Hollande and Merkel.

To the degree May is known in France and Germany, it is for being tough on immigration — an area where May’s approach diverges sharply from Merkel’s.

May did get to know French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, having dealt with him when he was interior minister on the issue of migrants heading to Britain from France, where thousands live in makeshift camps in the port city of Calais.

“Valls knows her well,” said a French government official. “They have a lot of respect for each other.”

The response of a Socialist French MP heavily involved in EU affairs was more typical. Asked what he thought about May, he responded: “Nothing. She’s British conservative, I don’t know much more.”

6 things to expect from Theresa May’s premiership

Like David Cameron, Britain’s next prime minister is a liberal Conservative. That’s where the similarities end.

By TOM MCTAGUE 7/12/16

LONDON – David Cameron will leave Buckingham Palace as a backbench MP on Wednesday afternoon, his career cut short in the most humiliating circumstances. Minutes later Theresa May will arrive to take his place as head of Her Majesty’s Government.

This is how British politics works.

After the short drive back to Downing Street with her husband Philip, May will walk into Number 10 for the first time as prime minister where she will be briefed by the cabinet secretary, Britain’s most senior civil servant, before issuing orders to the military on what should happen in the event of a nuclear attack. Then it’s down to work.

But what can Britain – and Europe – expect from this reserved, almost shy, Englishwoman with the most daunting in-tray of any prime minister since the Second World War?

Here are six things to know about Britain’s formidable new leader:

No more Notting Hill set

May’s first job in Number 10 will be to name her new Cabinet.

While reshuffles give prime ministers the chance to assert their authority, they are also fraught with political danger: for every winner, somebody else loses out.

MPs overlooked by Cameron are reassured by her record in the Home Office. “The people she promotes will be there because they are the best people to do the job,” one Tory minister who has worked closely with her said.

“We will see a return to proper cabinet government. People will like that because they will feel that they can work themselves up through the ranks. She doesn’t have an inner circle.”

The remark reflects widespread frustration among Tory MPs at Cameron’s so-called “chumocracy” that saw old friends and allies of the prime minister given plum jobs. It also helps to explain the support May has picked up among older Tory MPs such as Chris Grayling, David Davis and Liam Fox who feel their time may have come again.

In contrast to Cameron, Boris Johnson and George Osborne, May has no “set” to speak of. Those who have flocked to her leadership team are notable for their ordinariness, for going under the radar in parliament. While Cameron was forming alliances over university escapades and convivial “kitchen suppers,” May, who is a decade older than her predecessor, worked at the Bank of England and then at the European affairs unit of the U.K.’s Association for Payment Clearing Services before being elected to parliament.

Her core team is packed with “quiet achievers,” one Tory backer said. Expect promotions for backbench loyalists Simon Kirby and George Hollingbery and a key role for Gavin Williamson, May’s influential campaign chief. Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis is also tipped for a key cabinet role.

Jobs for the girls

It is inconceivable that a May government will not include more women in senior positions.

In 2005 May founded Women2Win, a campaign group to elect more female Tory MPs, and has spent more than a decade mentoring a host of Conservative candidates into parliament.

“There is a huge loyalty to Theresa,” one Tory MP said. “People overlook just how important she has been to so many women in the party. She has been an enabler for lots of women in Parliament.”

Amber Rudd, Priti Patel and Karen Bradley are all tipped for promotions, while government whip Sarah Newton is an outside bet for a ministerial job.

Inspires fierce loyalty

May received support from virtually everyone who has ever worked with her in government, which allies say is testament to her leadership.

Every member of her ministerial team in the Home Office backed her leadership bid while former members of staff dropped their private sector jobs to volunteer on her campaign.

Her communications chief Katie Perrior took a break from her PR firm to help, while former special advisers Fiona Cunningham and Nick Timothy returned to the fold to run her leadership bid. One minister who has worked with her said: “It takes a while to get her trust but once you do she is rock solid. At the same time what amazed me was just how quickly people develop an enormous respect for her. When you arrive at work she’s there and when you leave she’s still there.”

The MP Guy Opperman, a junior government whip who supported May’s campaign, said she reveals a much warmer, kinder side in private which helps explain the loyalty towards her.

He said that when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor during the last parliament he received lots of get well cards from colleagues. “But I only got one two-sided hand written letter – and that was from Theresa. She didn’t have to do that, I wasn’t in the home office. In fact I hardly knew her. She offered to help out in any way she could.”

Former aides say May still sends hand-written birthday and Christmas cards each year.

Loyalty to her staff and close colleagues can however produce a “bunker mentality” former Downing Street aides have complained. Hers was the only department in government that Number 10 felt it could not control and May’s staff regularly clashed with Cameron’s.

Hard but fair

May built a reputation for stubbornness bordering on obstinance.

“She’s a bloody difficult woman,” veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke let slip in an accidentally-honest assessment caught on tape last week. The remark was immediately taken as a compliment by Team May, who realized their candidate’s reputation for steeliness was a strength and not a weakness at a time of political turmoil.

“She’s the only person I’ve ever seen stand up to both George [Osborne] and Dave [Cameron] in cabinet,” one former ministerial colleague said admiringly. “They’d obviously planned a one-two on her but she just sat there and said no. You have to admire that.”

Her reputation has provoked comparisons to Britain’s first female prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously “hand-bagged” Brussels until she won Britain’s budget rebate and declared she was “not for turning” when faced with massive protests over her economic policy at home.

May’s supporters admit that when she has made up her mind she is unshakeable.

But she is no knee-jerk conservative. She has won praise from former Liberal Democrat colleagues for her record in government, supporting gay marriage, legislating against modern-day slavery and human trafficking and overhauling the police.

Milibandism in kitten heels

In May’s final speech as home secretary Monday, she set out her pitch to be prime minister. It was not just a step into the center ground, it was a giant leap.

She called for an industrial strategy, attacked George Osborne’s record as chancellor and promised more help for ordinary families and “not just the privileged few.”

“Good to see Theresa May reaffirming her commitment to the 2015 election manifesto,” wrote Stewart Wood, the former Labour leader Ed Miliband’s policy guru. “Especially as it’s Labour’s one.”

In the same speech she even risked distancing herself from Thatcher, the Tory grassroots’ pin up.

“We don’t just believe in individualism, but in society,” May said in sharp contrast to Thatcher’s famous line that there is “no such thing as society.”

Despite her toughness on migration, her left-leaning policy prescriptions are not so new. In a speech in 2013 she followed the same script, calling for government action against corporatism and a greater focus on fairness.

Tory to her core

Whatever noises the new Conservative leader makes about bringing the country together should not mask the fact that May hopes to crush the Labour Party, which she has opposed since she was a teenager.

In her speech to the Tories’ backbench 1922 committee on Monday, she was cheered to the rafters by MPs who see her as one of their own in a way they never did with Cameron.

There was loud banging on the tables and walls of the small conference room in Westminster’s Portcullis House as she mocked the Labour Party over its leadership troubles.

“She had a great reception,” one minister in the room said afterwards. “She got a good laugh when she said ‘now this is how you do leadership elections.'” The remark was a dig at Labour MPs who are currently locked in a seemingly endless battle to get rid of their leader Jeremy Corbyn.

May has been working towards being prime minister since her days at university. Above all she believes in competent government — something she regards as incompatible with Labour rule.

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