British elections, between dread and uncertainty

This particular spring has been a violent season for the British Lion

Photo: Featured photography
English 27/05/2017 17:06 Alexis Herrera Actualizada 17:51

People, just like nations, face daring days when that which was taken for granted yesterday, is no longer a certainty tomorrow. The events lived during the past year in the United Kingdom seem to confirm this statement: today, uncertainty is caused by the terrorist attack occurred on May 22, 2017, in Manchester city.

The challenge is now in the hands of Prime Minister Theresa May. Before the incident, few in the U.K. doubted about the most probable scenario: the construction of a new parliamentary majority favorable to the Prime Minister, which would legitimize her to face the authorities of the European Union during the arduous process of negotiations derived by Brexit.

Over the past weeks, this perspective has been changing because of both external and internal political developments. In the continent, Emmanuel Macron's victory in France has put to test the assumptions that the European Union was a lost project and has allowed the re-emergence of a Franco-German front. In the domestic context, May's program faces an echo of distrust among the more progressive sectors of the British society. And while her political agenda had a relatively wide range of acceptance in England, Whales and Northern Ireland are diffuse. In Scotland, the possibility of a second independence referendum is still an open possibility.

The Manchester attack seems to have paused all of this controversies. It is not, by the way, the first time May confronts an emergency of this kind. On March 24, she had to deal with a terrorist incident on London Bridge, in front of Westminster.

Today the scenario is different: while the attack of March was planned and carried out by a lone wolf, intelligence from the Manchester attack suggest that Salman Abedi was part of an Islamist network with links abroad. After the meetings of the COBRA Committee, the British government decided to raise the threat level from “severe” to “critical.” The Prime Minister also decided to deploy the army in key points of the country. The presence of troops on the streets complies with effective deterrence purposes and, at the same time, shows the government's resolution to face the terrorist threat.

The casual traveler will not find evident worrying signs amongst British citizens. The source of their strength derives, without a doubt, from the certainty that, in moments of extreme importance, the British society has been known to live up to the historic moment. Nevertheless, confronting the structural conditions which have made possible the diffusion of extreme Islam in the heart of this and other cities is one of the main challenges which the British society faces today.

International Security Consultant by The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy