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More than six years later, Trump’s rhetoric seems prescient for reasons he may not have intended. The right-wing populist shocks that hit both Britain and the United States in 2016 have exacerbated the internal dysfunctions within both countries’ right-wing parties. Divisions within the Tory majority over the terms of divorce with Europe convulsed politics in Westminster for years; The factional infighting that followed, to varying extents, cut short the tenures of three successive Conservative prime ministers.
The tumult of Trump’s presidency ended in the insurrection at the US Capitol by thousands of his supporters two years ago. That prefigured the havoc of the past week, where a crop of far-right lawmakers in the House, some steeped in Trump’s election denialism, stalled the confirmation process for new House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He needed 15 rounds of votes to secure a post that was supposed to be a formality because of the Republicans’ slender new majority in the lower chamber of Congress. not since the run-up to the Civil War had the country witnessed this scale of an impasse.
McCarthy’s quest for power saw him make concessions to his party’s extremists, a sign, yet again, of the hold Trumpism has over. a whole wing of American politics, “The good news for McCarthy is that he now has the position he has been striving for dating back to the last decade,” wrote Aaron Blake, “The bad news is that he will now assume a diminished speakership, thanks in part to his own concessions, leading a very fractured and unwieldy conference in a way that might make him regret ever taking the job.”
The referendum for Brexit, meanwhile, was a cynical political calculation., It was sanctioned by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who was eager to keep right-wing nationalist voters on his side and likely assumed a referendum to leave the EU would never win. When the improbable happened, Cameron resigned, and a series of his successors stumbled through years of fitful wrangling between Britain and the EU over the terms of Brexit.
The bitter disputes and parliamentary battles that consumed British politics in the past half decade—and, in particular, pitted more centrist Tories against their own party’s hard liners—may increasingly echo in the halls of the US Capitol. “The US and the UK are simply at different points in the cycle,” wrote Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedlandnoting how the anti-establishment passions unleashed by Brexit coursed through the body politic and corroded it, in some instances incentivizing calamitous ideological grandstanding,
The latest British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is seen as a more competent and pragmatic figure who could stabilize an economy in precipitous decline and bolster the ruling party’s waning electoral chances. but Conservative knives are being sharpened for him, and Sunak could face a rebellion from his right flank in the months to come over a number of policy measures. That includes the Sunak government’s expected inability to excise thousands of pieces of EU legislation from Britain’s statute books by the end of 2023. It’s a move which business and labor leaders warn could be disastrous if rushed, but which the Brexiteer vanguard insists must be done to finally secure a clean break from Europe.
“Whether it was the Commons gridlock of the two years preceding the 2019 election or the psychodrama of the three years after it, Brexit-era Conservatism has proved every bit as unhinged as Trump-era Republicanism,” Freedland wrote, before pointing to the shambolic , if brief, tenure of Britain’s last ousted prime minister, “When it comes to burn-it-all-down politics, the Republicans’ craziest wing are mere novices compared with a master arsonist such as Liz Truss.”
The new Republican-led House could test that analysis., Because of concessions made by McCarthy, the extremist right will have outsize influence on legislative affairs and may stymie any efforts Later this year to raise the artificial debt ceiling placed on the federal government. The prospect of a wholesale government shutdown looms.
In the view of Harvard political scientist Pippa Norristhe members of the GOP’s far-right Freedom Caucus who balked at McCarthy’s bid for speaker are “the exact equivalent” of the bloc of hard-line Brexiteers that undermined successive Tory prime ministers who were not as Euroskeptic as them. Their intransigence may mean less in the coming years, as public attitudes towards Brexit further sour and Labor is in pole position to win a parliamentary majority in the next general election.
The House’s GOP radicals are now poised to exert their influence. “Because the US relies so heavily on conventions — rules held to be binding out of sheer practice but without any possibility of legal enforcement — a great deal relies on political actors behaving themselves properly by earnestly attempting to follow the rules,” wrote Kim Lane Scheppelea professor of international affairs at Princeton University.
“But the days of political decency are long since over in the US,” she added. “Instead, gaming the rules has become a favored political pastime, more on one side of the political spectrum than the other, if truth be told. And that is why I am concerned that not governing is going to win out over governing in this new Congress — to the detriment of all.”
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