Prime Minister Theresa May Accuses EU of Interfering in UK Elections
Kam Sandhu of Real Media explains that May is adopting far-right UKIP discourse towards EU in an effort to win votes and a better Brexit deal
SHARMINI PERIES: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. The UK government is engaged in a rather acrimonious Brexit negotiation with the European Union. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has accused the EU of interfering in the UK elections. The European Union is also suggesting that Brexit could cost the UK 100 billion Euros to leave the union. For the ruling Conservative Party of Theresa May is embroiled in a number of scandals regarding alleged expenses and polling irregularities during previous elections. Some 29 of the MP’s are involved.
On top of all of this, a snap election has been called for the 8th of June. Given all this chaos, our next guest today believes that Prime Minister May has been getting a rather easy ride from the UK press while they conversely and collectively pile up on the leader of the opposition, Labor Party’s Jeremy Corbin. And that guest is Kam Sandhu. She is an investigative journalist, editor and co-founder of Real Media. Kam it’s really good to have you and welcome to the Real News.
KAM SANDHU: Thank you so much for having me on.
SHARMINI PERIES: So Kam, a few days ago the Prime Minister publicly accused the EU of interfering in the upcoming UK elections, that’s the snap election. Let’s have a look.
PM MAY: Whoever wins on the 8th of June will face one over riding task. To get the best possible deal for this United Kingdom from Brexit. Britain’s negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the Continental press. Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the general election that will take place on the 8th of June.
We continue to believe that no deal is better for Britain than a bad deal. But we want a deal. We want a deep and special partnership with the European Union. That whatever our wishes and however reasonable the positions of Europe’s other leaders, there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Kam. So what exactly is the Prime Minister referring to here when she accuses the EU officials of trying to interfere in the upcoming UK general elections, how the media is covering it and what is a deep and real deal for the UK? What does she mean by that?
KAM SANDHU: Well, it’s hard to gauge actually a lot of those questions. She’s kind of been playing a dangerous game in terms of her relationship with the EU, saying that she’s going to go for a very, very hard Brexit. Bear in mind, Theresa May, before she was elected, she was actually a part of the Remain campaign. Since becoming leader of Brexit which she says is the will of the people, ignoring perhaps the 48% that did vote remain and don’t agree with a hard Brexit. But she, to showcase her kind of her ability to make this deal, she’s actually been quite hostile to the EU and despite, but she’s been kind of lauded a lot in the press for that.
So for example previously when she said that she’s going to get a better deal than perhaps some other EU states, we had that lauded in the press. We had front pages saying “Next Iron Lady,” while completely different sentiment was kind of taking place across Europe. We’re being called Little Britain, suggesting that Theresa May was being quite petulant.
But this is a big, big deal. This is going to have a massive affect on peoples’ day to day lives. We’re talking about regulations to do with food. We’re talking about regulations to do with medicine. And we’re talking about trade deals and this is perhaps not the best way to go about it. In terms of what she was talking about in that specific speech, there was a story that came out, I’m not sure if you got it over there, but there was a kind of leak of a conversation that she had with a German newspaper. Now that wasn’t really even meant to enter the UK debate, but a British journalist had shared it, perhaps derided her a little for it and this seems like a very strong, paranoid response to that kind of a small story that is pretty ineffectual otherwise.
However, UKIP who were kind of on the fence who were very pro-Brexit, you know the whole shtick, the UK Independence Party was to get us out of the EU. She’s adopting a lot of their language which is kind of a hostility towards Europe. The idea that we are, that Britain is the victim in this situation and that we need to show outright hostility not just to the EU, but to migrants, to foreign workers, which she’s also followed suit with in her policies.
SHARMINI PERIES: Now Kam there’s a lot of repeated talk about getting a good deal for Brexit. What exactly is a good deal and what is this 100 billion Euro bill that Brexit will cost the UK public and did they even know about it when they were posed with the referendum of Brexit?
KAM SANDHU: Certainly I don’t think the British public were aware that it was going to be a 100 billion pound deal. There was a lot of, there wasn’t much clarity during that Brexit debate. You might have kind of promises on the sides of buses saying that we were going to get 350 million pounds for our NHS, but yet we somehow ended up with 100 billion pounds, hundred billion Euro, sorry, bill perhaps.
There were some figures floated beforehand during the Brexit campaign and the lead up to that vote of about 50 billion, but really so many of those promises have been rolled back and some of them within hours of that Brexit vote coming through that I think a lot of people are really not sure about what’s going to happen. And Theresa May hasn’t really articulate what’s going to happen. She threatened the EU as some kind of bargaining power by saying that she’s going to turn the UK into a tax haven if they don’t give her what she wants. However, being a tax haven is not perhaps diametrically opposed to what the Conservative government had been heading towards already.
They’ve cut corporation tax from 2010 when they first took power in coalition with the Lib Dems, from 28% to 20% and hoping for 17% which means that the average person will be paying more than corporations. They’ve also seen an increase in tax avoidance and tax evasion which Murphy estimated to be about 120 billion pounds.
So that could easily pay for that Brexit bill, but it doesn’t look like they’re going after those kinds of people.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right and one thing about Theresa May is that we don’t know very much about her. She inherited the position and of course she was Home Minister at one point, but you’re someone who really followed her history there. Give us a sense of who she is and what her record was as Home Secretary.
KAM SANDHU: Well yeah, I’m glad you brought this up because this hasn’t been something that’s been brought up certainly by the press since she took up the leadership campaign which, by the way, she kind of got that because all of the other candidates fell away. There was kind of back stabbing happening between Boris Johnson and Michael Gove and then Andrea Leadsom pulled out so she was just the remaining candidate. Perhaps one reason why she does need a much clearer mandate to lead the country through Brexit.
But yes, before she became leader of the Conservative Party she was Home Secretary during a time where she brought up some pretty racist and pretty awful policies. Many people in the UK will remember the Go Home bans. Now these were bans that were trialed in about 13 boroughs that said, “Go home or face arrest.” Very kind of hostile language towards migrants to show that they hadn’t tested whether this would actually have a really good affect. They were thankfully kind of canceled after a few weeks and the kind of hostility they received from the public.
However she also tried to protect indefinite detention for detainees and we had some of the highest rates of detention in Europe. And she, during an independent review which only came about as a result of women in these detention centers complaining of abuse, these detention centers are companies like G4S, like Circo, who by the way don’t pay tax in this country often, are another example of these tax avoiding companies. But as a result of that there was an independent review and Theresa May tried to protect and exclude indefinite detention from the review to kind of keep people locked up without any kind of release date or any criteria around that.
She also never accepted any refugees. She had very, very hostile kind of attitudes towards immigration. She was called out in several kind of quite sensitive cases and also oversaw Prevent, which if you don’t know is kind of an anti-radicalization program which actually is translating into a lot of surveillance by health professionals and schools and teachers, and asking them to play a part in kind of watching Muslim kids a bit closer and we’ve had some kind of really ridiculous as a result of that which is kind of three year old kids being looked at to see if they are acting too radical. So it has had some really, really bad affects in terms of the cohesion of society, which she apparently is working towards now.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, you will be hearing more from Kam in the coming days as we’re going to be continuing to follow the UK elections which are unfolding before us and Kam I thank you so much for joining us today and look forward to having you back very soon.
KAM SANDHU: No problem, thank you so much.
SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on the Real News Network.