Tue | Jan 28, 2020

George Davis | Nothing new under the sun

Published:Wednesday | January 23, 2019 | 12:46 AM

Whenever I spoke animatedly about something or the other from the news that fascinated me, my uncle, the senior attorney, would look at me with those know-it-all, seen-it-all-before, wise old eyes and say, “Nephew, there is nothing original, absolutely nothing new under the sun”.


And, of course, he’s correct. But he’s only correct when he’s talking about himself and the things he has seen over his long lifetime. To him, the world is a movie he has seen already, with the script essentially the same, even if the actors are different.


I have yet to tell my uncle about how deeply I have been drawn into Britain’s grapple with Brexit, to the extent that I may be obsessed.


But I’m sure when I tell him of how fascinated I am with Theresa May’s mulish but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get her Brexit deal accepted by Parliament, against a backdrop of open rebellion by an influential cohort of her Conservative MPs, many of whom supported the no-confidence vote brought against her by her own party last December, he’ll look me in the eye and say, “Reread the history of Margaret Thatcher”.



And when I tell him how impressed I am by a woman prime minister who’s intellectually razor-sharp, firm of conviction, a little bloody-minded and above the intimidation of any man or cabal of men, he will ask, “Do you know the former British prime minister who was called Attila the Hen and Milk Snatcher?”


And when I indicate to him that unlike Theresa May, Margaret Thatcher never had to depend on a majority vote from the entire House of Commons to deliver on the result of a referendum, he will say “Yes, but the Iron Lady pushed through a community charge or poll tax which sparked riots and street protests, culminating in the now infamous clash between police and violent demonstrators in Trafalgar Square on March 31, 1990.”


And I will up the ante by saying Theresa May voted for Britain to remain in the European Union (EU), yet has for the past two-plus years been working on getting Britain to leave the EU as per the result of said referendum, where 17.4 million Britons voted LEAVE, as opposed to 16.1 million who voted REMAIN.


I will say Theresa May was voted in by her colleagues in the Conservative party to serve as prime minister after her invertebrate predecessor, David Cameron, who promised the referendum vote, resigned after the triumph of LEAVE.



I will say that the hardline Brexiteers within the Conservative party, like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg, chose Theresa May because they thought they could manipulate her, as women prime ministers have been ‘programmed’ elsewhere in the past, to do their bidding in negotiating Brexit with the rest of EU.


And I will say that she has been true to the Brexit process and result in such a manner that her party hardliners not only took her to the brink by voting against her in an internal no-confidence poll, but sided with the Opposition parties in the Commons to deliver the worst defeat to a prime minister in almost 100 years of British politics.


And I will finish by saying this woman is still plugging away, despite having declared she will not lead the Tory party into another general election and having to have fresh Brexit deal making talks with her most vicious critics who are peeing themselves with glee at how she, on a personal level, has been ruined by the results of Britain’s vote on June 23, 2016.



My uncle will hear all of that and advise me to read again what happened to Victorian-era British Prime Minister Robert Peel after he repealed the Corn Laws in 1846.

He will then ask me to pay special attention what history says about that infamous visit paid to Maggie Thatcher by each member of her Cabinet after she barely survived a leadership challenge from Michael Heseltine on November 14, 1990.

He will revel in reminding me how the Iron Lady resigned 14 days later.

And my uncle will say that while there has never been a Brexit before now, the pressure of leadership facing Theresa May in Britain is not unique. Selah.


- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com