On April 18, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election to be held yesterday. The contest put all 650 seats in the House of Commons up for grabs three years ahead of schedule. May’s move came as a surprise since she had, on at least seven previous occasions, vowed to do no such thing. Yet the logic of the decision was undeniable; polls showed May’s Conservative party with a 21-point lead over its main rival, the Labour party. It was recipe for a landslide that would give May more leeway to negotiate as she entered Brexit talks with the European Union.
Plus, May herself was popular, having stepped into Britain’s post-Brexit leadership vacuum as an unflappable—if unflamboyant—leader. She seemed so unassailable that “Theresa May’s Team” overshadowed Conservative party branding on some campaign signage.
Against that backdrop, May called the snap election. And, well, the election snapped back—in spectacular fashion.
After May set the election in motion, her party’s comfortable lead dwindled, and last night it failed to maintain its majority, leading a hung Parliament.
The outcome is due—in part—to May’s own uninspired campaign style. She appeared uncomfortable when talking with voters and came off as robotic for repeating her “strong and stable” tagline as if it were a mantra. She was also a no-show at a televised debate, which prompted a giant chicken to accompany her on some campaign stops.
Her biggest misstep came when the Conservatives introduced a new approach to caring for the elderly. It was immediately dubbed the “dementia tax” because it seemed to disadvantage patients with long-term illnesses that require years of care. The backlash was so intense that May walked back the proposal, which, subsequently, sparked accusations of flip-flopping.
All the while, Britain endured three deadly terrorist attacks in as many months. Those tragedies, rather than prompting voters to rally around May, ignited close scrutiny of her record as home secretary. She held the job for six years before becoming prime minister in July, and oversaw a reduction in police forces, including armed officers, during that time.
At the very least, the election outcome has weakened May’s grip on power 10 days before Brexit talks with the EU are scheduled to start. She has pledged to press on. But opponents say she should resign and pay the ultimate political price for her stunning miscalculation.
|As further proof that ‘manspreading’ is indeed a global pandemic, Madrid is deploying a PSA campaign on its public transportation system that will ask men to please close their legs. |
|Oops, I clicked it again|
|Today in unlikely headlines: “Britney Spears’ Instagram Is a Secret Testing Ground For Russian Hackers.” A security firm has discovered that a Russian-speaking hacker group is using the pop star’s social media profile—with some 17 million followers—as a hub for distributing its malware. |
|When Betty Bromage soared over Gloucestershire Airport strapped to the wings of a vintage biplane she became the oldest female wing-walker in the U.K. The 88-year-old, who lives in a retirement home, broke her own record: She completed the stunt last year at age 87.|
|State of affairs|
|Canada’s government has a broad strategy to work directly with American states and cities on global warming now that the U.S. federal government has pulled out of the Paris climate accord. “I think it’s disappointing that the United States’ administration has not stepped up,” says Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment minister. “But the United States is bigger than the administration.”|
|New York Times|
|What’s in store?|
|According to a new breed of startups, the future of retail is physical stores as places for “brand experiences” rather than mere sales. Outdoor Voices—an athletic apparel brand with a cultlike following among young, primarily female fitness enthusiasts—is embracing that approach, as is makeup startup Glossier. Says Glossier CEO Emily Weiss of the company’s brick and mortar locations: “While the sales are through the roof and defy all odds, what’s more interesting are the girls who come once a week because they want to feel the energy in the room.”|
|Police that oversaw the case of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in Delhi say former Uber executive Eric Alexander would have had no legal reason to access the victim’s documents. Recode reported earlier this week that Alexander obtained the women’s medical report and shared it with CEO Travis Kalanick and another executive. All three speculated that the woman wasn’t telling the truth. |
|A personal peak|
|NPR has the story of professional climber Emily Harrington and her quest to summit a little known mountain in Southeast Asia called Hkakabo Razi that had been successfully climbed only once before. The journey taught her, more than anything, to come to terms with giving up control.|
|Only one woman made the list of highest-paid athletes in the world|
|The strange, complicated, feminist history of Wonder Woman’s origin story|
|Maine high school is reportedly the first in U.S. to provide Muslim athletes sport hijabs|
|An 81-year-old woman is inspiring Lebanon to recycle|
|—Model and entrepreneur Tyra Banks on what she told students in her Stanford Business School class.|