This week, the UK Conservative party had its annual conference, and depending on which conservative you ask in private, it went anything from not great to appallingly. To start with, Prime Minister May’s voice was giving out, and she had a persistent cough during her speech (by the way, when she was coughing into her hand, she revealed she was wearing a bracelet adorned with Frida Kahlo, a Mexican Communist who had a relationship with Trotsky). A comedian interrupted her, handing her a fake P45 (a form given to those who are fired). The sign behind her dropped letters until it read “Building a country that works or everyon.”
But that is all sideshow. What actually happened during the weeklong conference, the actual policy and plans laid out, indicate trouble for the Tories. Of the several policies that have been revealed, they seem to have been either borrowed from the Labour party, such as allowing town councils to borrow more to build more housing; or a reversal of previous positions, such as freezing university fees. There seemed to be no cohesive way forward, and no driving force for the ruling coalition with razor-thin majorities.
The big news out of the conference, both accidentally and on purpose, is Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. During the conference, he gave a speech steadfast with May claiming to want to “Let the Lion Roar”, seemingly standard conservative fare. Right before the conference, however, he set out a series of “red lines” on Brexit, undermining May who claimed she was in charge of negotiations. This is not the first time he has done such a thing, leading to questions on whether he is antagonizing his boss on purpose. There is no question he desires leadership, but it is not known whether his actions are strategically aligned, or just throes of instinct. A more serious matter is a speech he gave later, in which he said that Sirte could be “the next Dubai, the only thing they’ve got to do is clear the dead bodies away”. There have been 3 conservative MPs that have called for a resignation, along with several Labour MPs, while the Foreign Secretary has defended his comments and generally avoided other questions.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel for Conservatives, though. They are still polling at 40% despite the troubles they’ve had with Brexit and their policy doldrums. Theresa May leads Jeremy Corbyn, her Labour party rival, by 8 points in a poll of preference for Prime Minister. So whatever happens, they seem to be relatively evenly matched with their closest rivals. Brexit is being handled either badly or not at all, and it seems like all other issues have taken a backseat that main event, even though there are pressing issues with their domestic and foreign policy. The end result seems to be in flux, and only time will tell where it leads Great Britain.