School of Politics and International Relations

The human wedge in a fracturing Conservative Party

17 April 2019

Red-faced and almost vibrating with anger, Mark Francois rose from the green leather benches of the House of Commons after his fellow lawmakers had voted to delay Brexit, torpedoing his dream of a no-deal plunge out of the European Union. “Forgive them, father,” he boomed, “for they know not what they do.” Analysts say Mrs. May herself opened the door to the arguments now being voiced by Mr. Francois and others like him, including Nigel Farage. In a recent speech to rally Britons behind her Brexit deal, Mrs. May pitted the public against their representatives, saying, “I am on your side.” That, said Professor Tim Bale, has poisoned the discourse. “She has really handled these negotiations through a series of slogans that have legitimized attitudes and language that otherwise, I think, would have been kept where they belong,” he said. “In other words, in a box that few responsible politicians would have wanted to open.”

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