As predicted, history has once again been recorded in British politics with the emergence of another female prime minister, the second in United Kingdom within thirty-seven years. Even then, the process, this time, was more like from the wheel of fortune.
Barely three weeks ago, a day before the June 23rd referendum to determine Britain’s continued membership of European Union, even if Thereza May, the new prime minister, had any ambition, neither did she show it nor was there any indication that such desire was to be fulfilled imminently. Still, when against all expectations, campaigns for the referendum turned bitter to put the job of immediate past Prime Minister, David Cameron, on the line, Thereza May was not the favourite. That choice fell on flambouyant ex-mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who, however, was betrayed by his friend and justice minister in the outgone administration, Michael Gove, who officially entered the race for the job one hour before the same man was due to introduce his friend as a candidate. Boris Johnson had to withdraw into a seeming looming political oblivion.
Both had been outstanding in the campaigns for the withdrawal of Britain from Europe in a defeat of ex-prime minister Cameron’s official position to keep the country in Europe. When the battle to succeed David Cameron commenced, Thereza May had to contend with five rivals, including Michael Gove, whose only credential, ironically, was that he was a better candidate than Boris Johnson. That claim was apparently rejected, as the group sponsored another strong advocate of Britain’s withdrawal from Europe, Energy Secretary, Andrea Leadstom, among the lot that vied for the prime minister’s job. After the first two rounds, two candidates withdrew while two others, including Michael Gove were defeated, leaving the final showdown for the two ladies. Even then, according to their party’s rules and regulations for the elections, the final victor would not emerge until September 9, almost two months hence. For Thereza May to be appointed Britain’s prime minister? The wheel of fortune rolled in favour of Britain’s new prime minister by fast-forwarding the date of history to Wednesday July 14, 2016, as Thereza May’s only remaining rival and former energy secretary, Andrea Leadstom commendably withdrew from the contest. Outstanding candidate, Thereza May, within seconds, contested with herself, emerged the winner and made David Cameron’s continued stay in office no longer necessary.
European Union was obviously stunned into total silence by the sudden emergence of Thereza May. All along, since the verdict of the referendum, which confirmed Britain’s withdrawal, the EU in a display of petulance, continuously taunted the UK government to withdraw immediately rather than wait till September. New prime minister May must have bluffed that challenge by creating a new Ministry of Exiting Britain from Europe. The fall of one man portends the rise of another.
Furthermore, a political shockwave, such as in Britain carries tremendous collateral damage. For over six years, George Osborne, was Britain’s economic overlord at home and abroad and so imperial he was in influence and status that he was intermittently speculated as the inevitable successor to former Prime Minister David Cameron. As a hawk in retaining Britain in Europe, there could not have been any place for his economic policies in the new administration, which places priority on instant commencement of all necessary processes for withdrawing Britain from Europe.
A further highlight of the posture of the new administration in Britain is the deliberate accommodation of the group that massively campaigned for the withdrawal of Britain from Europe. In contrast to the dismissal (conveyed to the public as resignation) of the hawk of strong British presence in Europe and erstwhile finance minister, George Osborne, key figures in the anti-Europe battle, especially Boris Johnson, got top jobs. Johnson is the new foreign secretary. Two others were allotted two newly established ministries (of withdrawal from Europe and international trade) to cope with Britain’s new status after withdrawing from Europe. Thereza May’s first day in office as Britain’s new prime minister was marked by ups and downs for the two sides in the recent political storm, depending on the fortune of the stakeholders
The feat of second female prime minister for Britain in less than forty years must be of interest to their Nigerian counterparts. In civilised parts of the world, women assert themselves with their industry, assertiveness, self-confidence and determination. On the other hand, Nigerian women flaunt the so-called 1995 Beijing Declaration of Gender Equality in aspiring for top positions, For example, their desire is for, at least, thirty per cent of public appointments to be reserved or allocated to them as of right. In the process, even professional dresses are tilted towards beauty exhibitions or attractions for their beauty. Such tactics are embellished with blackmail, opportunism, short-changing and pampering. Top world leaders like Angela Merkel, Maggie Thatcher, Thereza May as well as high-ranking technocrats like IMF’s Christine Lagarde and female governor of federal reserve bank or Angela Eagle currently challenging for the leadership of British Labour Party never relied on Beijing 1995 Declaration of Gender Equality to attain heights in life. The female politicians cited above and many others scattered in different parts of the world challenged their male rivals.
The British opposition Labour Party is similarly battling leadership crisis in which about eighty per cent colleagues in parliament have withdrawn confidence in their leader. Faced with calls on him to resign, party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, raised a snag that confidence of hundreds of thousands of party members all over the country, who jointly elected him is stronger, a solid argument on which he stands. Labour Party dissidents also tender the debatable excuse that party leader Jeremy Corbyn has no prospects of winning a general election to put the party in power. That might set a dangerous precedent, which treacherous disgruntled or ambitious members of parliament can conveniently cite in future to unseat a duly elected leader, who has a perfect prospect or ever had a perfect prospect of winning general elections, especially for the British Labour party? Even incumbent Labour prime ministers lost general elections in the past. Why did Labour parliamentarians not foresee such disastrous prospects to demand the resignation of such leaders before the elections? Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson, could have been forced to resign in 1970 to pre-empt the party’s defeat in that year’s general elections by the Tories led by Ted Heath, who became prime minister. Again in 1979, Prime Minister Jim Callaghan never won a general election, as leader of the Labour Party. Why was Callaghan not forced to resign before the 1979 elections, which he lost to Maggie Thatcher and the Tories? Callaghan had earlier in 1976 inherited the Labour administration from outgoing Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
Left winger, Michael Foot, was leader of British Labour Party and never won any election. Foot was never demanded to resign on the ground of being unelectable, as a future prime minister. He led the party to the election or why did the parliamentary party not detect in advance that Michael Foot could not win? It is ridiculous that among the rank of Labour oldies also demanding Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation are past leaders who, during their various periods as part leaders, proved unelectable as prime ministers. Gordon Brown was lucky to have inherited administration from Tony Blair. Otherwise Neil Kinnock (twice), Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband must all be reminded they never won general elections and were never on that ground forced out of office prematurely.
What is more, election results predictions these days are not entirely reliable. Nine months ago, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband, all past leaders of Labour Party, publicly campaigned against the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn but ordinary members of the party throughout the country, by overwhelming majority, bruised the ego of these fellows and elected Jeremy Corbyn. Furthermore, even when results of the recent anti-Europe elections were being announced, pollsters were virtually unanimous that Britons would vote to remain in Europe. These are the same pollsters being employed to (mis?)assess the popularity of a sitting Labour Party leader.
In any case, if Jeremy Corbyn is to be forced out of office, why the attempt to prevent him from testing his popularity among the party’s members throughout the country, as stipulated in the party’s constitution? Whatever the outcome should be accepted by all sides. That is democracy, as bestowed by Britain to the world.