Yesterday, while many in America were riveted to their televisions watching former FBI Director James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his interactions with Donald Trump, across the Atlantic another event of earthshaking proportions took place in the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Theresa May, lost the Conservative majority in the House of Commons following a “snap” election she called for several weeks ago. This will go down in the history of British politics as one of the worst political miscalculations ever, perhaps even surpassing the resignation of Lord Randolph Churchill as the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
May and the Tories held a comfortable majority handed to them by the previous PM David Cameron. Cameron had resigned following his defeat on the referendum deciding that the U.K. would leave the European Union, commonly known as “Brexit.” Cameron had been in favor of remaining in the EU, but in keeping with the tradition of British politics, stepped down after his policy was rejected by the voters. May then became the leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.
As the final results of the snap election became known, it was clear that no single party holds a majority in the House of Commons. This is what is known as a “hung Parliament.” It is now up to one of the two leading parties, Conservative or Labour, to reach out to the other parties to join with them in forming a coalition government. This is not a new situation in British politics. Winston Churchill led a coalition government throughout his tenure as Prime Minister during World War II.
Pundits will be discussing the reasons for the Tory defeat in the days and weeks to come. There are a number of issues that factor into it. May’s stance on a “hard” Brexit; her political hubris; the surprising turnout among younger voters who tend to vote more liberal; and a sagging economy among others.
But one issue that might have tipped the balance towards her defeat cannot be overlooked. The attacks by Donald Trump, whom May embraced immediately after his inauguration, on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, immediately following the dreadful terrorist attacks of last week.
The first one was this:
This was not only callous and insensitive, but completely untrue. The Mayor had told the people of London not to be alarmed by the increased presence of police and security on the streets on the day after the attack.
Then Trump doubled down with a second attack the next day:
No Donald, the mainstream media didn’t have to “sell it.” The exact words of the Mayor of London are on video for the people of America and Great Britain to see.
For those wondering why the President of the United States chose to say such dreadful things about the mayor of the largest city of one of our longest allies, the reason is simple. Sadiq Khan stated during our general election that he did not want Trump to be elected POTUS. It’s as simple as that.
Trump used human tragedy for political revenge.
The British people were already upset by May’s invitation to Trump for a State Visit that she issued earlier this year. In fact, the date of the visit was postponed from June to August so that Trump would arrive while Parliament was in recess and not have to face the embarrassment of not receiving an invitation to speak before them.
If the people in the U.S. weren’t outraged by these Trump tweets, the people of the United Kingdom certainly were. May’s close association with Trump may not have been one of the major factors for her unprecedented defeat, but the timing of his tweets the week before the general election undoubtedly hurt her chances.
If you will remember, Trump also endorsed Le Pen in the French presidential elections and she lost by 24 points. No matter if the Conservatives are able to cobble together a coalition government or not, Theresa May is toast. The only question that remains is who will replace her as leader of the Conservative Party.
As political commentator Rick Wilson so astutely points out “Everything that Trump touches dies.”
And Donald, I think you can kiss that golden carriage ride through the streets of London goodbye.