Theresa May and political sexism, Brexiteer-style

The hardcore Brexiteers are so keen on beating up on Theresa May for one primary reason — because she is a woman

Published December 17, 2018 5:00AM (EST)

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (AP/Peter Nicholls)
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (AP/Peter Nicholls)

This piece originally appeared on The Globalist.

Make no mistake: Theresa May is an extremely stubborn lady. But it is the height of male arrogance for her arch-conservative, pro-hard Brexit detractors in her own Conservative Party to throw the famous definition of insanity at her, according to which the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

No doubt, quite a few people in British politics are currently insane. They just happen to be the very same people who argue that the Prime Minister is insane.

Trump, the Brexiteers and self-revealing self-hatred

These Brexiteers can be best understood the same way one can make perfect sense of Donald Trump’s constant flow of invectives which he hurls at his opposition.

One just has to consider that whatever ludicrous charge he is throwing at his political opponents, really describes what he himself does, is guided by and/or intends to do.

May and Churchill

Theresa May is many things — an illusory ultra-sovereigntist, for her determination to have Britain leave the EU. A turncoat — during the Brexit referendum, she fought in the Remainer camp. One thing she is definitely not — insane.

Dogged in the Churchillian sense is more like it. With one crucial difference: Against very long odds, Churchill thankfully and artfully delivered on his promise to defeat the Nazis and thus free not just Britain from oppression, but the European continent.

In contrast, Theresa May’s odds for “delivering a successful Brexit” are impossible. Why? Because the logic of European integration runs counter to the most (in)famous, long-term maxim of British imperial politics — to get something meaningful and substantive in exchange for nothing.

The United States and Russia, now as Brexit allies!

Interestingly, May’s failure to deliver is not that she doesn’t have powerful outside allies. In fact, Churchill’s key allies — the United States and Russia — currently under the management of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, can be counted among the chief advocates of Britain leaving the EU.

Of course, they do so purely for very selfish and/or pure spoiler reasons – whether to get to negotiate a trade deal with a much-weakened Britain (as in Trump’s case) or as part of a campaign to weaken the EU (as in Putin’s case).

The best deal, really — if you want to suffer

Given an impossible hand, Theresa May has doggedly tried to make the best of it, in a manner that has even endeared her to opponents of Brexit, including this author.

She is right in arguing that, if the goal is to deliver any workable form of Brexit, the half-way house construction she and her team have come up with is the “best deal.”

It is also true that any such deal is a terrible deal for all of Britain, not just for Scotland or Northern Ireland or the country’s young people.

The perverseness of the joyful (political) wife beaters

Where the hardcore Brexiteers are correct is in arguing that Mrs. May is not delivering on the goals of the Brexit as they envision not. Nobody can.

Theirs is a torched earth strategy, rooted in hyper-arrogant, hyper-risky attitudes that last came into play during some of the darker chapters of British imperialism, say, in India.

But the proposition that May is incompetent because “she” does not deliver what they – the arch-conservative men – want on Brexit is an unvarnished form of sexism. The implicit suggestion is that the girl just doesn’t know how to deliver to us men.

The fact that none of the men so keen on ending her prime ministership have even a prayer of delivering anything better is simply a tell-tale sign that there are still way too many monomaniacal men in the ranks of the Tories in the House of Commons.

They want to make the real world fit their ideological world view, and refuse to deal with reality.

While the hardcore Brexiteers realize deep down that the EU won’t let them get away with the Brexit they want, they can at least get satisfaction by beating up on a woman for non-delivery of promised services every single day. Piñata-style.

This article is republished from The Globalist: On a daily basis, we rethink globalization and how the world really hangs together.  Thought-provoking cross-country comparisons and insights from contributors from all continents. Exploring what unites and what divides us in politics and culture. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  And sign up for our highlights email here.

By Stephan Richter

Stephan Richter is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist, the daily online magazine, and a columnist in newspapers around the world. He is also the presenter of the Marketplace Globalist Quiz, which is aired on public radio stations all across the United States. In addition, Mr. Richter is a keynote speaker at international conferences -- and the author of the 1992 book, “Clinton: What Europe and the United States Can Expect.” Follow him on Twitter @theglobalist.

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