Is British Prime Minister Theresa May a “Dead Woman Walking?”
By Paloma Delgado
Theresa May’s rule over the UK for the past few weeks has been anything but easy and currently her leadership hangs in the balance. She recently lost the Conservative party’s slim majority in Parliament after the June 8 election. As a result, many believe she has lost her mandate to govern.
A £1 billion deal was struck with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to muster up some votes but there has been little to no success through this deal. They have exactly ten seats in Parliament which is sufficient to move the majority in the Conservative party’s favor. But there is much controversy around this deal because of the DUP’s conservative stance on issues such as abortion and LGBTQ rights, to name a few. Not only is the decision controversial because of the group itself, but many believe that the money May has provided to the DUP will only result in more turmoil. Some see this agreement more as a form of bribery, including former Treasury official Nick Macpherson. Macpherson suspects that “£1bn for Ulster is just a down payment,” and that the “DUP will be back for more.” According to a report from the Financial Times, supplying Northern Ireland with “an extra £1bn over the next couple of years in return for supporting [the Prime Minister’s] minority government is the equivalent of spending almost £60bn across the UK.” This already puts her in a worse light as she provides further financial support to the citizens of Northern Ireland, who already receive more economic assistance than those in the UK.
The Queen’s Speech
At the beginning of each Parliamentary year, the Queen of England delivers a speech to address the priorities of the Prime Minister, setting an agenda for the months ahead. It is an extravagant event that has become a long-standing tradition. However, this time around, Queen Elizabeth arrived without her customary spectacle of horse drawn carriages and a different form of appearance as she was without robes and crown. The speech delivered a week ago by Queen Elizabeth reflected May’s command of the UK: irresolute and bland. In fact, few of the topics that are usually mentioned by the Conservative Party were named. Not only that but the speech failed to mention many of the relevant affairs throughout the country, including increased political tension and the series of terrorist attacks that the country has endured. Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was quite concerned by these omissions. "This slimmed-down Queen's speech shows a Government on the edge," he said.
Grenfell Tower Crisis
After the Grenfell Tower fire, the government has faced much criticism as well. One key reason is that the apartment building had been covered with cladding, a flammable material, during its renovation. Cladding has been prohibited in the U.S. and many other countries but the UK allows it. The Prime Minister has apologized to those affected by the fire stating that the initial response towards the disaster, “was not good enough” and “that was a failure of the state, local and national, to help people when they needed it most.” These statements come after criticism towards her after she failed to meet the victims and their families in the first few days after the tragedy. Others blame May because of the government's cuts to council funding. This meant cutbacks to many crucial services that includes preserving parks, picking up trash, operating children’s centers and other forms of social care. As a result of the funding being reduced by 40 percent, there are less inspectors to properly maintain buildings like Grenfell Tower.
For all of these key reasons, Theresa May’s future as the Prime Minister of the UK is very questionable.