Theresa May’s bizarre and blatantly electioneering speech in front of 10 Downing Street last night has been described as ‘going full Trump’ in its ‘conspiracy nut’ strangeness. It smacked a little of desperation, which is odd since she’s supposed to be riding high in the polls – though even Tory-owned pollsters YouGov can’t disguise the rate at which Corbyn’s Labour is eating into her lead. Even the international media are starting to take note:
It makes you wonder what the Tories’ own polling is telling them.
May’s extraordinary outburst against supposed EU plotters attempting to use comments about Brexit negotiations to influence the outcome of the election was astonishingly ill-judged – you don’t win people’s agreement on the things you want by accusing them – but it was also nonsensical. As various commentators pointed out, she was accusing them of trying to influence an election she didn’t have to call:
Theresa May launches an unprecedented attack, accusing Brussels of
of trying to influence election with threats. She's turning into Trump!
— Martin Shovel (@MartinShovel) May 3, 2017
Others pointed out that she was actively – and recklessly – undermining the very negotiations she’s asking British voters to trust her with:
However, even though Mrs May started her speech by claiming her negotiating position had been ‘misrepresented in the continental press’, her speech actually confirmed that the leaks she was referring to were accurate.
May was referring to an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeiting (FAZ) and a subsequent series of tweets by the Berlin Bureau Chief of The Economist with key quotations. There are a lot of tweets, so the most crucial sections are highlighted:
The quotes from the conversations and the reactions of the EU officials show May as clueless, ill-informed, naive, utterly deluded and lacking credibility – and taking Britain over a cliff because of her unfitness.
They also show that she is routinely lying to the British people about the state of negotiations and taking us all for fools by asking us to vote her in again when she’s clearly out of her depth.
Downing Street’s response to these damning revelations was weasel-worded:
We do not recognise this account.
‘Recognise’ has more than one meaning and could literally be taken as ‘we do not wish to acknowledge’ while leading people to believe it means something different. It’s extremely significant in ‘bureaucratic-speak’ that May’s office did not say ‘The account is untrue‘.
In fact, May’s speech inadvertently showed that the account was absolutely true. Her references to EU threats and a ‘hardened’ negotiating position are completely in alignment with the FAZ/Cliffe quotes.
May is trying to have her cake and eat it by denying the content of the leaks at the same time as using them to whip up a ‘little England’ mentality and anti-foreigner sentiment.
But she’s overreached massively.
May’s statement may appeal to the hardline, anti-foreigner fringe who would only vote Tory or UKIP, but it will have horrified anyone more open-minded – just as it did Ian Dunt, who has been anything but pro-Corbyn. But anyone – whether in the remain or leave camp – able to consider events with any kind of rationality will see that she just gave a glimpse into the panic that’s setting in beneath the surface.
Voting for someone who is willing to switch from being a remain supporter to a hardline xenophobe and is floundering way out of her depth will be a step too far for many people who might otherwise have fallen for her droning mantra enough to give her tentative support.
As long as they see or hear about it and realise its significance. It’s up to us to make sure they do.
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