The recent defeat handed to the Conservative Party in Britain may hold lessons for the United States. Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early election, gambling that her party’s platform would attract more seats in the House of Commons giving her a mandate to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union. She, however, misjudged her popularity. May’s party suffered a humiliating defeat and now must form an “agreement” with another minority party to hold what was once a solid Conservative majority in Parliament.
May won her position as Prime Minister only a year ago. She stressed British nationalism and a call for the end of unrestricted immigration as allowed by the EU. Her rise to power was much like what happened here last November. An early supporter of President Trump, she applauded his Muslim ban and supported him in his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Essentially, May took a position similar to Trump, stressing Britain’s former greatness and blaming outside forces and the “elites” for ruining her country. Signs saying “Make Britain Great Again,” showed up at her rallies. It was May who extended an invitation to President Trump to make a head of state visit to the UK. That visit now looks to be very much in doubt.
A funny thing happened to May when the public got a chance to weigh in on her year of stewardship in Britain. Perhaps they realized that with Brexit, their country stood to lose access to the European market that accounts for more than a quarter of the country’s economy. Many Brits did not vote last June, figuring that Cameron would stay in power as Prime Minister. But his position supporting Britain’s remaining in the EU cost him his job. He resigned over the exit vote and Theresa May became his successor.
Now that reality has set in, the British electorate has decided that they don’t want what they thought they wanted just a year ago. Those to didn’t vote last year, did vote this year. Those that worried that leaving the EU would leave Britain isolated and bereft of traditional trading partners wanted a “do over.”
It may be a stretch to see a similar change of heart in this country as we look toward the 2018 mid-term elections. Congress is up for grabs — particularly control of the Senate. Trump will continue to hold his base. No question about that. But if enough American voters take the route of their British counterparts, after a sober evaluation of all of the unfulfilled promises of the Trump administration, assuming we don’t see his proposed reforms in taxes, healthcare, and immigration, we just might see a major shift in the balance of political power in this country. And if this happens, Trump will probably end up a single term president.