Today marks British Prime Minister Theresa May’s last day as leader of the Conservative Party. Alejandro Chafuen, Acton’s Managing Director, International, wrote yesterday in Forbes describing some of the factors leading up to her exit. Whatever one’s opinion of her performance, it is undeniable that hers was a difficult time to be prime minister, and it has been made more difficult by the seeming determination of some in the British government to frustrate what the British people voted for two years ago.
At the end of the day on June 7, Theresa May will leave office due to her failure to come up with an acceptable Brexit plan. Her failure was influenced by many factors. From my personal observations, in today’s regulatory environment, radical changes can easily be blocked by internal and external enemies.
One of these enemies is the entrenched bureaucracy, otherwise characterized as the “deep state.” Those possessing intimate knowledge of the regulatory frameworks affecting most economic sectors, from finance to air travel, from ports to communications, know the myriad implications and unintended consequences of relevant changes. Will airlines need new permits to land in London? How about financial regulations? The U.S. boycott on Huawei, and with those companies that do business with it, affected the imports of strategic components needed in the defense industry for which there was only one supplier. Except for isolated think-tankers or academics and those directly affected, usually only bureaucrats, lawyers and lobbyists know (or even have incentives for knowing) the full details and implications of key regulations. Just by delaying and postponing actions or failing to use any initiative to try to find a solution, bureaucrats can assure failure.
(Homepage photo credit: May announces her resignation, May 24, 2019. British Government, OGL 3.)