Anne Applebaum writes: Theresa May had a plan: Steal the policies of Britain’s “far right” — the U.K. Independence Party — and then steal their voters, too. Since she took office about a year ago, the formerly moderate British prime minister attacked foreigners, jeered at the European Union and held Donald Trump’s hand. In April, she called an early general election, confident that UKIP voters would now endorse her “hard Brexit” and her watered-down English Tory populism.
Never mind that the moderate centrism of her predecessor, David Cameron, won a Conservative Party majority only two years ago. Never mind that she herself has offered few details about Brexit and what it will mean: May called this a “Brexit election,” declared herself the “strong and stable” candidate, promised tough negotiations with Europe and clearly expected to win a larger majority.
Yes, May had a plan — but it was a plan designed for her base. She ignored the 48 percent of the country that did not vote for Brexit, calling them “citizens of nowhere.” She ignored the anxiety that Brexit has created and the economic consequences that are now just beginning to bite. She ignored younger people, who preferred to stay in the E.U. last year and now prefer the Labour Party to the Tories by a huge margin, 63 percent to 27 percent.
May also assumed that the centrists and moderates who had voted Conservative in 2015 and to “Remain” in Europe in 2016 would have to vote for her because they would have nowhere else to go. They couldn’t possibly vote for Jeremy Corbyn, the quasi-Marxist, left-wing Labour Party leader who campaigned on high taxes for the rich, heavy spending and deep skepticism toward Britain’s traditional defense and foreign policies. They couldn’t possibly prefer a Labour Party that is itself divided over Brexit. But as the campaign went on, as May grew stiffer and more prone to error, as her “strong and stable” tagline wore thin, a lot of people in the floating center looked at Corbyn and thought, “Is he really that much worse?”
And the result? Remainers’ revenge. [Continue reading…]