British Home Secretary Theresa May became the last person standing in the Conservative party this morning when her only remaining challenger dropped out. So instead of waiting for the party conference in September to formally step down, PM David Cameron is buggering off this week:
May had been competing with Andrea Leadsom to replace David Cameron as party leader after he announced he would quit after losing last month's Brexit referendum.
However, Leadsom announced Monday she was dropping out, leaving May unopposed and forcing the Conservatives to abandon their plans for a ballot of members.
Cameron said he would offer his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II Wednesday — a necessary formal step when changing leaders — meaning May would become leader the same day.
May will be the country's second female PM and the first since Margaret Thatcher stood down in 1990.
There is, however, a wrinkle:
[H]er premiership will be dominated by one subject, and one alone: Brexit. The new prime minister has said she will not rush to invoke Article 50, beginning formal exit talks, and in her public pronouncements has emphasised the importance of retaining single-market access to a greater degree than some of her more die-hard Eurosceptic colleagues, some of whom question whether she will drive a hard enough bargain with the 26 other EU states.
Given the coming storms—from the renegotiation to the economic fallout from Britain’s decision on June 23rd—Mrs May will surely be tempted to call an early election. She has previously ruled this out. But those around her obsess about avoiding the mistakes of Gordon Brown, another introverted master of detail who inherited the premiership rather than winning it at the polls. Mr Brown contemplated a vote in 2007 when he took over from Tony Blair, chickened out and lived to regret it. So as the home secretary prepares her move to that storied, terraced house in SW1 and contemplates a Labour Party tearing itself apart, the thought must cross her mind: time to go to the country and secure a five-year lease?
Fun times in the UK.
New York Times business columnist James Stewart thinks it through:
Unless Britain finds a way to undo its decision to leave the European Union, London’s days as the pre-eminent global financial capital, ranked even ahead of New York, may be numbered.
Who might win this high-stakes financial sweepstakes?
Here are the criteria most frequently mentioned: English-language facility, which is essential for attracting a global work force; a favorable regulatory environment, especially regarding employment; excellent transportation and communications infrastructure; availability of prime office space and luxury housing; good schools; good restaurants and cultural offerings; and finally, an intangible quality that includes a certain energy level and openness to an influx of highly paid, competitive City of London-Wall Street types.
I scored numerous cities in the European Union on a 60-point scale: five points for office space and housing, five points for restaurants and cultural offerings — because it’s easier for any city to build new offices and housing, and import talented chefs and entertainers — and 10 points for each of the others.
So who's on top? I'll let you read it, but for my money, I'd live in any of Stewart's top 3.
Cranky Flier points out that while tourism to the UK is really a great deal right now (as I'd attest), it's going to be a lot more expensive if Brexit actually happens:
Today the UK is part of the European Common Aviation Area (CAA). That means that UK-based airlines can fly anywhere within Europe they want, just as if they were based in any of those other European countries. The same goes for European airlines flying within the UK. It also means that bilateral agreements negotiated by the EU with third parties outside the EU apply to the UK. And there are a host of European aviation regulations that govern air travel in the UK as well. Some or all of this may go away completely when the break-up occurs. That is to be determined by those negotiating the terms.
...[T]he EU may decide it doesn’t want the UK in the CAA anymore. That would be quite the blow to the UK, but it would be a warning shot for anyone else contemplating the same thing. I keep coming back to that castle scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
That would mean that the UK and the EU would need to set up a more traditional bilateral agreement. It would be shocking if those restrictions didn’t include a ban on UK-based airlines from flying within the EU. That would mean foreign ownership rules would apply. For EU-based airlines this wouldn’t be a huge issue. They’d probably lose the ability to fly domestically within the UK and they couldn’t be majority-owned by a UK shareholder anymore. That’s not really an issue.
For the UK, however, it’s bad news. Think about easyJet, a UK-based airline that criss-crosses the EU all day every day. It would no longer be able to do that. Instead it would be forced to create an EU-based subsidiary, of which it could presumably only own 49 percent, and then have that company handle the intra-EU flying. Half the profits of that company would go into the EU instead of to the UK as they do today. The airline is already investigating this possibility. This wouldn’t hurt easyJet other than adding a little more complexity, but it would hurt the UK.
Yesterday, I thought of a different problem, but related not just to Brexit but to the general British mindset of never wanting to change anything. That problem is Heathrow. It's not fun connecting through Heathrow to go anywhere, mainly because it's only got two runways servicing its five spread-out terminals. Compare that with, say, Amsterdam's Schiphol, or Munich, or even Brussels, and it's difficult to see how Brexit doesn't make Heathrow even less attractive than its continental competitors.
The UK will screw itself by leaving the EU so many ways that porn stars will be flabbergasted. Aviation is just one small area of this.
Sometimes there are odd coincidences.
Three unfortunate events in the English-speaking world happened on May 4th. Here in Chicago, 130 years ago today in 1886, the Haymarket Riot occurred near the corner of Desplaines Avenue and Randolph Street.
Forty six years ago today in 1970, four students were killed at a nonviolent anti-war protest at Kent State University in Ohio. Tin soldiers and Nixon coming...
And 37 years ago today in 1979, Margaret Thatcher took office as the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, jolting the country rightward, destroying traditional English industries, and unsuccessfully trying to disenfranchise the poor and underclass.
But today, let's forget all that. May the Fourth be with you. And in honor of May 4th, it looks this morning like George Lucas has decided to stop beating his head into a wall, and is taking his museum somewhere else.
I'm just going to re-publish Bruce Schneier's post from this morning:
GCHQ detected a potential pre-publication leak of a Harry Potter book, and alerted the publisher.
Is this what British national intelligence is supposed to be doing?
What, exactly, is the British equivalent of the NSA looking at?
I'm in the Ancestral Homeland on a my last-ditch effort to maintain American Airlines Platinum status for 2016. If that sounds bizarre and pointless to you, then you have some empathy for the UK Border Force agent who interviewed me for fifteen minutes this morning.
Usually my UK entry interviews are about ninety seconds. I'm here four times a year, I always go home, and...well, that's basically all they've ever been concerned about. Until today, for the 23 years I've been visiting the UK, I have never had any trouble entering the country.
Today, however, we went several rounds on the theme "wait, you paid money to come here for one day?" Yes. I really did. I needed 6,149 elite-qualifying miles to keep my status, and the round-trip from Chicago to London is 7,906. Plus, it's London, a city I love dearly and would live in if circumstances and HM Customs and Immigration allowed.
So, I'm in, and I have a new note in my Border Force dossier now that includes things like, I have £99 in my pocket, and no official reason to be in the UK other than tourism. This may have an impact on my Registered Traveler application, which may now be rejected. The Border Force website says tourism is a totally valid reason for Registered Traveler status; but the agent in booth 34 this morning disagrees.
It's sad, really, because so far for the last 25 years all I've ever done in the UK is spend money and return home a few days later. Of course, I'll still visit, but who likes being rejected?
Stuff to read (or watch):
Back to the mines.