Theresa May faces poll ultimatum - Hold the line in the face of extremists

On the eve of elections that seem to carry particular weight for Israel and that troubled region, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if he is re-elected tomorrow. 

Whether that hardening, the veer further to the right, is a ploy so he might retain office and, possibly, delay corruption charges is a subjective question — but then it is an ongoing tragedy that everything about Israel is subjective.

Mr Netanyahu’s rightward swing has a ripple effect. Though he would reject any comparison, former Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín, speaking at the launch of his party, Aontú, at the weekend, said immigration needs to be managed.

“There is no doubt there is a growing unease and concern... around the issue of immigration,” he warned.

He may reject a comparison with Mr Netanyahu, or Nigel Farage, or Viktor Orbán, or even Alice Weidel, but he has chosen the same them-or-us agenda.

Aontú is not a lone voice. The Irish Freedom Party (IFP) may be further along the Netanyahu, Farage, Orbán, or Weidel road, but its ambitions, and abrasive sentiments are the same. Like Ukip, it wants us to “take back control”.

It has spent an estimated €40,000 on an anti-EU billboard campaign, though it is coy about the source of its funds. Maybe they are beneficiaries of the DUP’s generosity. Arlene Foster’s party, after all, has a proud record in funding anti-EU campaigns, even if they are silent about the ultimate source of the money they channelled to buy advertising in a London publication before the Brexit vote. Puppets and puppeteers abound in these murky waters it seems.

Whether the DUP, or any other British party, has to commit resources to next month’s European elections is an open question — one that points to the chaos and humiliation of British politics’ dangerous inability to reach a consensus on how Britain might leave. 

This contagion creates a vacuum instantly exploited by those who might be described as pupils of the Netanyahu, Farage, Orbán, or Weidel school of politics. 

The EU elections have taken on an Alamo characteristic for some of prime minister Theresa May’s mutinous MPs. Participation is another Brexit red-line and Tory MPs have told Ms May they will move to replace her within weeks should that obligation transpire.

This chaos deepens as Ms May’s government and Labour indicated yesterday that last-ditch talks to resolve the situation remained deadlocked. 

House of Commons leader and ardent Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom added spice to the mix yesterday when she said that no-deal Brexit at the end of next week would be “not nearly as grim” as many believe. She also warned that a departure extension long enough to require the UK to participate in European elections was “utterly unacceptable”. What a bubble she lives in.

Any amusement this fiasco provoked faded long ago and the take-home lesson, one that Netanyahu, Farage, Orbán, and Weidel — Aontú and the Irish Freedom Party too — can’t ignore is that determined, unwavering solidarity, as the EU has shown, works and wins. This is not a time to blink.

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