In all the commentaries that I have read on the resignation of Theresa May, none has mentioned the Windrush scandal. There may be analyses on her
legacies that included her disgraceful role in that affair but at the time of writing, I haven’t seen them.
The Windrush scandal constitutes one of the most repugnant moments in the history of the United Kingdom and the history of the Commonwealth. And it was the creation of the woman who, yesterday, resigned as the British Prime Minister.
The story involved the arrest, detention and legal harassment of legal British residents who were thought to have been illegal in the UK. A total of 83 legal residents of the UK were deported, mostly from the Caribbean.
Some died back in the Caribbean while they were waiting for the Home Office under May to process their re-entry papers.
Long before the populist, authoritarian figures in the US, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Brazil etc. emerged with their racist agenda, there was Theresa May. If anything Caribbean, people should remember May for the Windrush scandal. May is gone. The Guardian (UK) referred to her legacy as poisonous but there is an important lesson in her downfall that all politicians should internalize.
May lost power because of Brexit. In the end when she faced the press to announce her resignation, she was prepared to continue to hide reality. In announcing her resignation, she said that that the British people voted in a referendum to leave the EU and their wishes she respected. It was a silly cop out.
The world knew and the British people too that what the UK voted for in the referendum was not what Brexit turned out to be. In other words, there were two Brexits – the one they voted for in the referendum, the other was what subsequently unfolded.
The Brexit that came three years after the referendum proved to be a disaster for the UK and the world. We now come to that important lesson. In politics, there is always a fluid situation. You may get your country’s support to invade another country but as the war drags on, your soldiers keep dying and your country faces economic collapse, you have to change course.
The famous example of changing course is President Richard Nixon in the Vietnam War.
Theresa May and her Conservative Party knew it was easy to tell the British people to vote to leave the EU. But as the dangerous, destructive and deadly consequences became emblazoned on the landscape only one option May had. The world knew this. Go back to the people, tell them that this is what leaving the EU will bring to the UK, do you want that, yes or no.
A hypothetical example is appropriate. If you hold a referendum to ban the use of dyes in the manufacture of cotton and the ban is approved and one year after, its cost to the economy proves disastrous, then go back to the people and ask them if they still want to ban the dyes. You have to do this because society is always in a state of flux.
There was nothing wrong in the British Government holding a second referendum. May and her Conservative Party resisted it because they knew that they could have lost so they didn’t want that gamble. It is for this reason May came across as not straight forward when she said she respected the referendum results.
That referendum was held three years ago. How could May not know that people may have voted for something back then that they wanted to change now. Give them that opportunity.
The UK is regarded throughout the world as one of the strongest democracies on the map. But May damaged that image, first by the Windrush scandal and by her narrow politics of refusing to consult the British electorate when that was the strongest moral and democratic option facing her.
I don’t think the world will shed a tear for Theresa May but she left that important lesson that all humans, not only politician must recognize.
Spelt out clearly it instructs you to back down if it is in the interest of your country. There is no moral shame in choosing an alternative pathway to the one you promised your country if with the passing of time, your promise becomes unrealistic.
Those who follow world politics would know that Theresa May and her Conservative Party put politics before country. There will be a new conservative leader who will become the next Prime Minister. If it is Boris Johnson, then Trump will have a soul mate in London.
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