Political paralysis, British intellectuals, and Victorian wisdom

Political paralysis, British intellectuals, and Victorian wisdom

Brexit Paralysis and the Prime Minister’s Dramatic Move


The current state of Brexit negotiations seems to be plunging Britain into further paralysis and uncertainty. With opposing factions, political bickering, and a lack of clear plans, it appears that the country is on the brink of yet another cliff edge. However, one potential solution could involve a dramatic move by the Prime Minister. By offering to resign from her position if the withdrawal deal is passed, Theresa May may be able to rally enough support to break the ongoing deadlock.

The European Reform Group, made up of hardline Eurosceptic MPs, is currently divided into two camps. One camp is willing to compromise with the Prime Minister, but only if they can get everything they want. The other camp, however, is unwilling to compromise under any circumstances, even if their demands are met. This division makes reaching a consensus seem impossible.

Additionally, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Northern Ireland’s largest party, is feeling disrespected and is in a state of high dudgeon. The Labour Party shows no signs of prioritizing the country over their own partisan interests. With these factors in play, it seems inevitable that the Prime Minister will face a heavy defeat in the upcoming vote on the withdrawal deal.

To avoid this continued stalemate, Theresa May could make a bold move. She could offer to step down from her role as Prime Minister immediately after the withdrawal deal is passed. By stating that her job will be considered complete if she can successfully navigate Brexit through parliament, she would leave her successor to handle the post-Brexit challenges. However, if parliament fails to reach a decision, she would have no choice but to stay on for another attempt.

This proposition could shock enough MPs into rallying behind the Prime Minister. Conservative MPs, eager for a change in leadership, would be compelled to support her. There’s also a chance that a significant number of Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Independent Group MPs would rally behind her as well, given that she would be visibly prioritizing the country’s interests over her own career. This move would not salvage a Tory Brexit, but rather, it would see the departure of a Tory Prime Minister.

Wavering MPs from all parties would be faced with a clear choice: endure more months of the Prime Minister robotically repeating the same stock phrases or shake things up by supporting a dramatic gesture. By making this sacrifice, Theresa May would transform her reputation. Instead of being remembered as the leader who “lost” the 2017 election and bungled Brexit negotiations, she would be remembered as a heroic figure who put the country above all else.

This move would also benefit the Tory Party by allowing a fresh lineup of competent successors, such as Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt, to take center stage. It would present an opportunity to rid the Cabinet of underperforming members and shift focus from Brexit to national repair. While Brexit negotiations will undoubtedly continue for years, they will become more technical and less attention-grabbing in the future. Both the Conservative and Labour parties are currently in a dismal state, so the party that takes the initiative to fix itself first by replacing its current leader and bringing in a new wave of talented individuals will gain a considerable advantage.

Although this suggestion may seem far-fetched, the alternative—an ongoing defeat in parliament, more months of negotiation, and a further crumbling of the government—is something that should be avoided at all costs. Making a dramatic move like resigning from office could be the key to breaking the political impasse and steering the country towards a more stable future.

British Intellectuals: Revered or Undervalued?

British intellectuals are sometimes perceived as undervalued, in contrast to their French counterparts who enjoy great reverence. However, it is worth questioning whether this opinion truly reflects the reality. While it is true that the British public often gives platforms to second-rate comedians rather than serious thinkers, the notion that Britain does not value intellectuals should be reconsidered.

Oxford and Cambridge colleges stand as palaces built by the British to honor their prominent intellectuals. Bookshops boast a “smart thinking” section filled with volumes that indeed deliver intellectual content. Figures like John Gray, an intellectual known for his delightful pessimism, enjoy prominent platforms in British life. Throughout history, intellectuals such as Isaiah Berlin have been showered with honors, highlighting the recognition they receive from society. Therefore, it may be an oversimplification to claim that Britain does not appreciate its intellectuals.

Intellectual Enthusiasms: The Lessons of the Past

Not all intellectuals are worth our attention, and this becomes evident when reflecting on the intellectual enthusiasms of the late 1990s to the 2000s. Many ideas that captivated the era, including the wonders of Silicon Valley, the wisdom of crowds, and the inevitable triumph of liberal democracy, have proven to be misguided. Silicon Valley, once believed to bring about a new era of knowledge-driven capitalism, has become dominated by corporate giants focused on advertising rather than expanding collective knowledge. The idea that crowds possess superior wisdom has crumbled as we witness the destructive power of populist rage eroding institutions and debasing our civilization.

To gain perspective on the current collapse of neoliberalism, one can turn to the mid-Victorian era, particularly the 1860s. During that time, the mid-Victorian intellectuals grappled with the decline of Benthamite liberalism. Works such as Matthew Arnold’s “Culture and Anarchy” and John Stuart Mill’s “The Subjection of Women” resonate with our present circumstances. It is fascinating to ponder how future readers will view the intellectual writings from this contemporary era, considering the disappointment brought about by books like Tom Friedman’s “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” and James Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds.”

As we navigate the challenging intellectual landscape, it is essential to distinguish between intellectual voices that truly offer valuable insights and those that are merely passing fads. By drawing upon the lessons of history and critically assessing ideas, we can ensure that our intellectual pursuits contribute to the betterment of society.