A looming crisis
It could hardly have been imagined that the so-called developed countries would face continual political upheavals. However, the prevalence of political turmoil within the ‘first world’ became quite evident from last year’s US presidential elections, with Trump’s presidency being marred by ever-increasing controversies.
Not only has Trump failed to prioritise women’s rights and race relations but his presidency has also resulted in the alienation of the international community. Upon being elected, Trump called Germany out for being in America’s debt and his rhetoric towards North Korea has been anything but diplomatic, giving rise to growing concerns of an inevitable risk to international peace.
Trump’s denial of climate change has also resulted in the loss of his country’s moral influence over the international community in this regard. The only countries with which Trump’s US seems to have secured a good rapport appear to be Russia and Philippines, which are led by Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte. The links with Russia are particularly inconvenient for the US government since there has been an ongoing investigation into Russia allegedly meddling with the 2016 presidential elections and thereby undermining the authority of Trump’s presidency.
However, what seems to have been undermined is the fact that the same kind of instability has also become a common feature in UK politics. The Brexit referendum held last year resulted in 52 percent of the UK population voting to leave the EU, which completely toppled David Cameron’s premiership. When Theresa May succeeded Cameron as the prime minister of the UK, she promised people a Britain that worked for everyone – a promise that appears to have remain unfulfilled.
In her desire to pursue a “hard Brexit” and following multiple legal challenges to her Brexit policies, PM May abruptly held snap elections in June 2017, which resulted in a hung parliament that led to the Conservative Party forming a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the controversial Northern Irish Party, the DUP. As a result, not only did the UK end up with a weak government but a government that has been unable to strike a deal with the EU to enable a clear path towards its departure from the regional bloc by March 29, 2019. The UK finds itself disputing the financial settlement that it owes to the EU following its decision to leave. The rights of EU citizens living in the UK as well as the question of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (which remains part of the UK) are also contentious issues. This has led to a sense of disillusionment towards the UK by its European neighbours.
In addition, the UK government has faced some of the most embarrassing revelations over the last few weeks. These include claims by female members of parliament in the House of Commons that they have been harassed by their male counterparts, which embarrassingly led to the resignation of the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. Also, Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel recently resigned after it was discovered that she had held secret meetings with the Israeli government. In addition, there have been repeated calls to sack of the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for negligently making a statement about how British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists in Iran when it was quite clear that she was only in the country to meet her family. This statement has reportedly jeopardised Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s chances of being released from prison by the Iranian authorities.
What is unfolding is the biggest constitutional crisis within two of the world’s largest democracies. However, this is a feature that is also prevalent in the developing world and was evidenced recently by the military takeover in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. However, this comes as hardly surprising when the developed world itself is currently fighting its own demons.
The writer is an advocate of the high court.
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