-OpEd-

BERLIN — Theresa May can only lose. The British Prime Minister is fighting alone against a grand alliance of conspirators, poisoners, and wire-pullers, supported by opportunists, weather-vanes and underlings from her own Tory party — ready to tear each other apart wherever they feel they can gain power: on the one hand, ambivalent personalities with a passion for intrigue at the highest level, such as Boris Johnson, on the other, dogged opponents of Europe like Jacob Rees-Mogg.

These, in turn, are supported by the Labour opposition troops hoping for new elections, and the forces of those who oppose Brexit. The latter, in particular, are counting on May's failure to obtain a new referendum that will allow them to stay in the EU. Not even Margaret Thatcher would have been in a position to match such a coalition of powers.

May hardly stands a chance of winning this battle, not least because she lacks the weapons. She’s negotiated with the EU for so long that both sides are now standing by their principles and can no longer compromise. Any new concession would undermine their worth and unleash centrifugal forces that would endanger their very existence — on the British side as well as in the EU camp. A renegotiation will, thus, not be possible. May must go into the battle of Westminster empty-handed.

A rational player like May can never gain a meter of ground.

But even if she were the embodiment of power itself, she wouldn't get far. Her greatest enemy, her most brutal opponent, is also an invincible one: illusion. Against dreams and utopias, against delusions and tempting slogans, a rational player like Theresa May can never gain a meter of ground — and that in the land of pragmatism! “Our habits or the nature of our temperament do not in the least draw us towards general ideas,” political thinker John Stuart Mill once explained to his French counterpart Alexis de Tocqueville. But this is precisely where the majority of British society has been living for some time: in the realm of illusion. It seems like only a frontal crash will wake them up.

Meanwhile, no European can be happy about the situation. And not because the British will soon stop transferring seven billion euros a year to the EU. It’s the breaking away of Western power that is disastrous. Whatever Brexit may end up looking like, the French and Germans must quickly create a binding trilateral network of alliances with London — no matter who happens to be in 10 Downing Street.


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