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This Week in Brexit: What Scotland Lost

by John Brian Shannon

Congratulations to Prime Minister Theresa May for working out a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to allow the present minority Tory government to continue in office.

Theresa May strikes ‘confidence and supply’ deal with DUP

And congratulations to DUP leader Arlene Foster for negotiating so well on behalf of her jurisdiction, thereby gaining £1.5 billion in additional infrastructure and other funding.

That’s a ‘Win-Win’ for the Tories and for the Democratic Unionist Party — and more importantly (sorry, Theresa and Arlene!) it’s a ‘Win-Win’ for residents of Northern Ireland.

Theresa May signs ‘£1.5 billion’ deal with the DUP

Infrastructure in Northern Ireland is in bad shape and the funding appears at an opportune moment, as there comes a point when it becomes cheaper to tear down a bridge (for example) than to pay ever-increasing maintenance costs.

The same is true for all infrastructure. Whether roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, airports, or the underground infrastructure that carries water to homes and businesses, all of it has a ‘best before’ date where leaving vital infrastructure spending for too long can cost more than the savings of not doing the work.

The Conservative/DUP deal: what it says and what it means

Of course, £1.5 billion isn’t going to fix it all. But I wouldn’t be surprised if two years of successful DUP ‘confidence and supply’ support gets the residents of Northern Ireland additional infrastructure spending allocations, courtesy of DUP leader Arlene Foster and Prime Minister Theresa May.

And why not? Arlene Foster prevented a divisive and perhaps extended Parliamentary crisis — one that would’ve prevented much good from being done in the United Kingdom.

Speaking of which; See how infrastructure spending is increasing in Northern Ireland, and how it isn’t in Scotland? Not only additional spending, but PM May and DUP leader Foster also negotiated more devolved powers for Northern Ireland.

NOTE to Nicola: It’s great to have a particular ideology, but when it costs your jurisdiction £1.5 billion in the form of missed infrastructure funding, it’s time to review what you think you’re accomplishing!

Loss of opportunity is also a metric by which UK leaders must be measured — it certainly is for heads of government everywhere else — and not as much as it should be, but it’s still an important marker of successful leadership.

Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland’s SNP missed the boat. Arlene Foster of Northern Ireland’s DUP didn’t. And UK Prime Minister Theresa May begins to look like a bit of a deal-maker, which can only be viewed as a good thing as we head into Brexit. Well done, Theresa!


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Theresa May’s Weird Winning Strategy

by John Brian Shannon

As of this writing (5:00am BST, June 9, 2017) election results for the UK General Election are beginning to trickle-in and pundits are lining up to lambaste Prime Minister Theresa May for calling a snap election while in majority government, and then losing the majority just as the UK is poised to head into Brexit negotiations.

‘Oh yes. She fumbled it. Absolutely.’ Said every headline.

And on the surface, that’s what it looks like.

Surely, any majority government that calls an election they don’t need, becoming a minority government in the process, are losers. What else could it be?


But what if Theresa May is smarter than pundits realize?

Short-term pain, for long-term gain?

Maybe. She’s a shrewd operator. Although she can seem cold, standoffish, and even awkward in certain situations, it also seems she’s a patriot who was willing to ‘take a hit for the team’ in order to realize her dream of ‘Building a Better Britain’.

What if everything she’s done has been done with great purpose and resolve, balancing huge risk to her standing as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and to her party fortunes in order to accomplish some great goal that will eventually result in a better Britain?

What if Theresa May has been playing chess whilst everyone else has been playing checkers?


Viewing the UK through a Prime Minister’s lens

Holding a snap election vs. not holding a snap election.

What would be the point of staging a successful getaway from the European Union, and then with the SNP still powerful because it was holding 56 seats, the SNP decided to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom via (post-Brexit) Indyref after Indyref?

Wouldn’t it follow that either Northern Ireland or Wales might then consider staging their own independence referendums and possibly leave the United Kingdom?

What if both devolved territories followed Scotland out of the United Kingdom?

Suddenly, there would be no more ‘United’ in the name United Kingdom, only England remaining.

At that point, the European Union would probably prevail upon the newly independent territories to join the EU — and if successful at that, the EU would become emboldened to invite London into the EU family by promoting London referendum after London referendum.

Had Theresa May not called a snap election, she might have left the SNP in a powerful position, with Scotland leaving the UK (post-Brexit) and the SNP inviting both Northern Ireland and Wales to leave the UK with Scotland.

Such are the matters that keep Prime Ministers awake at night.


Trading a majority, for a Kingdom that remains United

It appears that Theresa May knew what she was doing all along — she chanced losing a majority in the House of Commons for a chance to stick it to the SNP.

Yes, it cost her. But because of the 2017 election results the SNP is now a weaker force, with much less momentum than it had pre-election. Momentum that could have been used in the immediate post-Brexit timeframe to break up the United Kingdom.

Such is the nature of strategy; In order to safeguard the ‘United’ part of the name ‘United Kingdom’ Theresa May used her tactical assets to accomplish those goals.

And that’s the difference between strategists and tacticians. Master strategists like Winston Churchill won WWII, but were forced to expend many of their tactical assets to do so.

(Read about the Battle of Britain to fully understand how this played out in WWII. Many times it may have looked like Britain was losing the war, or at least taking a severe beating, when in fact Winston was setting the Nazis up for later defeat. And he did it in broad daylight, right under everyone’s noses, including his own staff)

Is Theresa May that good? In broad daylight, quite under everyone’s noses, did May just save us from a SNP-led break up of the United Kingdom in the post-Brexit period?


Let the facts speak for themselves

Prime Minister Theresa May spent some of her chips in order to take down the SNP — the same SNP that represented the number one threat to the UK remaining united in a post-Brexit Europe.

Now that the SNP has lost a significant number of seats to Labour and Conservatives alike, the SNP is no longer the threat to UK continuity, harmony, and stability it once was.

In baseball parlance, this is known as a ‘force play‘ when the base runner is in a position to score a point and is forced by the playmaker to run towards home plate knowing full well they’ll be ‘tagged out’ in the process.

If that’s what Theresa May is up to, she’s playing the game of politics at a level far above the understanding of her critics, and it also means she’s a true British patriot, a citizen par excellence, of a permanently United Kingdom.

Having weakened the greatest potential threat to UK unity in decades, the noble Theresa May can now proceed with a safe Brexit — a Brexit where the United Kingdom doesn’t risk losing Scotland, or Northern Ireland, or Wales, in the process.

Well done, Theresa! Right… under… their… noses!

Theresa May’s Conservative Manifesto Speech – May 18, 2017

by John Brian Shannon

Prime Minister Theresa May tells her audience about her party’s manifesto 20-days ahead of the June 8th general election, and starts off by saying, “Today as we face this critical election for our country, I launch my manifesto for Britain’s future.

“A manifesto to see us through Brexit and beyond. A plan for a stronger, fairer and more prosperous Britain. A plan to seize the opportunities ahead and a plan to build a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home.

“It is a detailed programme for government rooted in the hopes and aspirations of ordinary working people across the land.

“But it is more than that, it is a vision for Britain, a portrait of the kind of country I want this nation to be after Brexit, as we chart our own way in the world.

“For at this defining moment for the United Kingdom, as we embark on our momentous journey for our nation we have a chance to step back and ask ourselves, ‘What kind of country we want to build together’.

“I believe that our United Kingdom can emerge from this period of national change, stronger, fairer and more prosperous than ever before…”

So, without further ado, here is Prime Minister Theresa May’s entire Conservative Manifesto launch speech that was delivered in Halifax, West Yorkshire on May 18, 2017.