Voters delivered a few pleasant surprises for some groupings, and a couple of bitter disappointments for others, in elections to the European Parliament Sunday. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was turnout: more than 50% of the European Union’s 400 million voters did so this weekend. Sunday marked the first election since 1979 in which turnout actually increased. Various pro-EU factions still command a strong majority in the 751-seat Parliament. However, for the first time in 40 years, the EPP and S&D governing coalition has lost its majority.
Early Friday morning, outside the steps of 10 Downing Street, Theresa May brought the unmitigated disaster of her premiership to an abrupt and ignoble end. Three years ago, the day after 52% of Britons voted for divorce from the European Union, May inherited a deeply divided populace, a disintegrating political party, and a country flung into chaos by its own hand. By every measurable metric, she has left the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Conservative and Unionist Party with it, in a worse state than when she found it.
The Brexit deal nobody likes is back, and characteristically, there’s something in it for everyone to hate. A ten-point plan presented to MPs by Prime Minister Theresa May contained many of the same promises and compromises she had previously offered. Vague language about “alternative arrangements” and “keeping Northern Ireland aligned” aren’t any more likely to win over Conservative Brexiteers, or her Democratic Unionist partners, than they were before. At least one item, per The Guardian, seemed placed for no other reason than to round the list up to ten.
In a possible dress rehearsal for European elections later this month, British voters took out their frustrations on the two major parties in local elections on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives got the worst of it, losing some 1,300 city councilors, and more than 40 councils, compared to their 2015 figures. Labour fared no better, dropping about 80 councilors, and losing control of a half-dozen city councils. For good measure, even pro-Brexit UKIP, big winners four years ago, lost almost all their seats Thursday night.
- On Wednesday, Parliament voted 313-312 to require Theresa May’s government to request another extension from Brussels, and avoid leaving the European Union without a deal. The UK is set to crash out next Friday if no agreement can be achieved.
- In a series of non-binding votes last week, Parliament approved a short delay of Britain’s divorce from the European Union, and ruled out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. They also resoundingly rejected both Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal and a second referendum.