The Brief: May’s shaky bid to be Supremes leader

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Theresa May’s election campaign, which ends today, is a lot like Diana Ross’ performance at the opening ceremony of the 1994 World Cup.

Surrounded by dancing, ecstatic goons and singing 1980’s I’m Coming Out, the Baby Love diva jogged to the penalty spot of Chicago’s Soldier Field.

There, a stooge goalkeeper waited. The suspiciously-close-to-goal Supremes hitmaker, shimmied, shot and missed completely. Even so, the goal fell to pieces with a crash of pyrotechnics.

Stop (in the name of love) and let me explain. Much like Diana Ross’ penalty, everything in this election was set up for Theresa May.

But her huge lead in the polls has shrunk from 24 points to a single point. Her campaign has been littered with missed goals, while her “unelectable” rival Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity has soared.

Flip-flops and U-turns on social care have left her looking, to borrow her slogan, about as “strong and stable” as those collapsing goalposts.

Her failure to condemn Donald Trump for his Twitter attacks on London’s Muslim mayor after the weekend’s terrorist attack or for his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement have made her look weak.

Cuts she backed on police budgets are blamed for the three recent terror outrages in the capital and Manchester. People claim she will privatise the National Health Service.

Branded the Maybot, she is ridiculed for how she eats fish and chips and for saying the naughtiest thing she has ever done was run through a farmer’s wheat field when she was a child.

British people hate being taken for granted by their politicians and May has done just that. The Brits have, during the campaign, had a good, long, hard look at the prime minister.

Her critics find her insincere, wooden and wanting. Some of her supporters no longer see her as the next Iron Lady.

Diana Ross got a rapturous response after finishing her World Cup set with songs like the much-loved 1985 smash Chain Reaction – a hit later ruined by popstrel no-marks Steps.

But people remembered. Ross may once have duetted on Endless Love with Lionel Ritchie but she was no footballer.

For millions, she is now just a prancing maladroit who couldn’t bang it in an open goal when the pressure was on.

May’s façade has cracked and her honeymoon period is over.  Another bad omen for the prime minister is that no UK team qualified for the 1994 tournament.

Heading into the Brexit negotiations, May needs the crushing majority many predicted to tame the extreme Brexiteers in her party.

If she doesn’t get it, she will soon find herself looking at her fellow Conservatives and wondering where did our love go?

A final word: I am sorry to say that this is my last Brief. I am leaving EURACTIV today for a new challenge, working in Brussels for a British newspaper. I want to thank all of you for letting me clog up your inboxes over the last ten months. It’s been a privilege. Special thanks to the two Sams and the rest of the team, who will help this newsletter go from strength to strength.

THE ROUNDUP

The EU’s fraud squad is investigating six EU personnel in connection with the Panama Papers tax evasion scandal.

For the first time, the EU’s Single Resolution Board intervened to avert the collapse of Banco Popular. The move, which saw Spain’s sixth-largest bank transferred to Santander for €1, was welcomed by Madrid, Brussels and bank depositors, as it protects savings without costing tax-payers. But the solution wiped out bond-holders’ and share-holders’ investments. Check EURACTIV.com later for the full story.

Russia yesterday intercepted a US bomber flying close to its border over the Baltic. Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen today unveiled a €39bn plan to develop joint military capabilities.

ECR group leader Syed Kamall told EURACTIV Poland he wants to see Britain become a fairer, more global nation after Brexit. Experts have warned that controls on imports of Britain’s favourite foods and drinks could seriously harm EU farmers.

Reforms to organic farming regulations have fallen hostage to national interests, say the Greens.

America’s coal sector is the only industry to welcome Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement. The UK made big cuts to carbon emissions in 2015, while emissions increased across the EU as a whole.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble accused the Greek government of failing to tax shipping adequately but Greece’s ship owners suspect him of domestic favouritism.

Brussels is adamant that the Western Balkans common market can be up and running in a year and Azerbaijan hopes its plans for a tax-free free-trade hub will give an economic leg-up to the whole Eurasian region.

Brussels has reassured Ankara that it will honour its side of the €3bn migrant deal by the end of the year. The Commission is gearing up to sanction the Visegrad Four over their refusal to cooperate with the bloc’s migrant quota scheme.

Look out ISIS: the European Parliament’s EPP and ALDE groups want a special committee to look into failings in Europe’s anti-terror cooperation.

LOOK OUT FOR…

Globally recognised feminist activist Gloria Steinem will give the keynote speech at tomorrow’s EWL conference on ending violence against women and girls. The conference will be followed by a demonstration in the centre of Brussels.

Views are the author’s.

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