British conservatives: out of touch, and quite possibly out of time


Courtesy / Wikimedia

Rapid turnover among conservative PM’s in Parliament begs the question, what on earth is going on in the House of Commons?

Diego Benites, Crier Staff

In the last six years, the current British Conservative government has seen five prime ministers – three of which served within the last three months. This is an outrageous number of political leaders, and, as an American, it is almost unimaginable to comprehend having that many heads of government in that short time period. This governmental instability is the result of poor policy and leadership which has plagued the United Kingdom for the past six years.

Although I may have my quarrels with conservatism, I do acknowledge the merits in some of their arguments. However, I have never understood the merits for the UK’s exit from the European Union. In the post-WWII world, enacting policies which promote nationalism and isolationism not only seems backwards and archaic but is also dangerous in this modern globalized world. I do acknowledge that I am not British, and I do respect the UK’s rights for domestic sovereignty, even though I may disagree with their policies. These policies, however, have caused political instability in the country.

The notorious 2016 “Brexit” referendum and then Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation mark the beginning of this political churning within the Conservative party. Cameron opposed Brexit, and, after the referendum passed, he resigned. Cameron’s vacancy was filled by Theresa May, who was tasked with making Brexit a reality.

To her credit, Theresa May did her best to deliver her promise to the British people. She submitted a plan to exit the European Union to the House of Commons three times. All of which were rejected. After the third time, it was clear to many Conservative party members that May could not deliver on Brexit, and they initiated a party vote of no confidence. May won that vote of confidence, but, seeing that she had lost a significant fraction of support in her party, she resigned. Theresa May’s failings resulted in the decline of the quality of British leadership, starting with Boris Johnson.

Although I still believe that Boris Johnson is a bumbling imbecile, I concede the fact that he accomplished a great deal while prime minister. While he oversaw everything from Brexit to vaccine rollouts as PM, Johnson’s ethical behavior is subpar at best.

The beginning of the end for Boris Johnson was “partygate.” Johnson and many of his colleagues attended multiple parties at Downing Street, the residence of the prime minister, while the country was under a strict lockdown ordinance for COVID-19. A person in any leadership position should be leading by example and be in touch with the struggles and concerns of the people they represent. Unfortunately, Johnson lacked this quality as prime minister. Even when Johnson left, these lack of leadership qualities persisted in 10 Downing Street.

“Partygate” was not the end for Boris Johnson. That would come after revelations of sexual misconduct by Charles Pincher, a senior member of Johnson’s government, was revealed. Johnson initially denied knowing about Pincher’s misconduct before his appointment in 2019, but it was later revealed that he was aware of these allegations beforehand. This ethical scandal along with “partygate” led to the resignation of 50 of Johnson’s government members. Brexit, which had marked defeat for his predecessors, had given him a great opportunity to prove his leadership ability; however, he failed because of his unethical behavior.

Boris Johnson was then succeeded by the highly controversial Liz Truss. To say that Liz Truss’ time as prime minister was an utter disaster would be an understatement. It seemed as though Truss was actively out of touch with the concerns of everyday Britons. In the midst of global inflation, Truss’ government, with no plan to pay for it, imposed massive tax-cuts for big corporations and the country’s highest earners. The British pound’s valuation tanked and inflation increased, while the country was already facing massive inflation. Fortunately, Liz Truss did not last too long. She resigned from the position, assuming it 44 days prior.

I have little hopes for her successor, Rishi Sunak. He comes from an elitist background and attended elitist schools like Winchester College. In a 2022 issue of The Times, Sunak was listed as one of the 250 wealthiest Britons with a net worth of £730 million. A government which is out of touch with its people should not have an elitist at the helm. However, I hope I am wrong about Rishi Sunak. He does face many challenges with inflation and an energy crisis which will only be exacerbated by the upcoming winter. Good luck Rishi! You are going to need it.