Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the Capitol Hill riot by a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters was a “wake-up call” to the US and other Western democracies that political stability should not be taken for granted.
(Bloomberg) — Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the Capitol Hill riot by a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters was a “wake-up call” to the US and other Western democracies that political stability should not be taken for granted.
May had an uneasy relationship with Trump when they were both in office at the same time. She said the 2021 incident following Trump’s defeat, in which his supporters tried to stop Joe Biden being formally appointed at president, was an example of how politics has suffered from “hard-line polarization.”
“What I worry about in the US is the polarization of politics,” May told Francine Lacqua in a Bloomberg TV interview on Wednesday. “I, as many around the world in democracies, were deeply concerned about the mob attack on the Capitol, and what that meant for democracy.”
“And I think it in a sense was a wake-up call. Because in recent decades, I think those of us in the west have taken the view that liberal democracies were in the ascendancy, that this was an accepted way forward and we almost didn’t need to worry; we became complacent,” she said. “Actually, we have to fight. We have to work hard to protect democracies, and to persuade younger generations in our own countries of the importance of democracy.”
While careful not to comment on whether Trump should receive the Republican Party’s nomination to contest Biden at the US election next year, May nevertheless said of his time in power, “it was a more unpredictable and uncertain presidency.”
When it comes to China, the UK needs to “balance” its economic relationship and call out instances of modern slavery, May said. Businesses can make a “huge difference” by examining their supply chains.
“The debate about China often seems to be in what I described earlier is absolutist terms that either you ignore China, or you’re completely in with China,” May said. “The answer is, of course, that it’s right to be neither of those; you can’t ignore China’s huge economic presence across the world.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak came under pressure again on Wednesday to reveal when he first knew about allegations of Chinese espionage in Westminster amid growing pressure to designate Beijing a threat to Britain. The arrest of a former parliamentary researcher under the Official Secrets Act led to him confronting Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the G-20 meeting in India on Sunday over “unacceptable” interference in democracy.
May is publicizing her book, The Abuse of Power, in which she recounts the battles over Brexit that dominated her tenure in office between 2016 and 2019. “My biggest regret is not getting the deal I wanted to get through the House of Commons,” she said of her Brexit proposals, but adds that her approach was the right one.
Some of her male colleagues in Parliament “sometimes actively said to me and openly said to me that when I was negotiating with the European Union, I should have been thumping the table, I should have been walking out of the room, I should have been slamming the door,” she said. But that would not have worked to achieve a compromise with the EU, she argued.
(Adds further comments from sixth paragraph about China and Brexit)
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