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The Growing Importance of Leadership Following the Brexit Debacle

Whether you're a fan of Theresa May or not, it's difficult to label her as a "non-trier". To her credit, she has seemingly explored all possible avenues in trying to force (for want of a better word) her Brexit deal through. However, it's becoming more and more evident that she has lost the trust of the British public and is not seen as the person to take the country forward into the unknown when Britain eventually leaves the European Union.

The "strong and stable" mantra banded around by May when she first took control of the Conservatives has been used as a stick to beat her and her party with over and over again. It's clear that the country is certainly in need of strong leadership more than ever before but is there anyone out there capable of taking the Brexit bull by the horns? And how is the issue of leadership affecting the European Union?

May Out. Johnson In?

Boris Johnson - Photo ECThe quickest and most simple solution on the surface is to simply replace Theresa May and install a leader who is daring, has more nerve and has that certain "je ne said quoi". To this end, many would say Boris Johnson fits the bill - he is one of the most energetic members of parliament and this charisma could certainly prove useful in getting the public back on side. The more uncertain the world becomes post-Brexit, the more we long for a charismatic leader who shares our own ideals and instils a feel-good factor which is often elusive within the political sphere. However, research into charismatic leadership poses many questions and reveals a number of reasons to be skeptical of these sorts of individuals.

One could argue that leadership qualities are much less important than the actual relationship between leader and follower. This then poses the question, are we wrong in looking for the right attributes when considering a leader and should we instead be examining the reciprocal nature of the relationship that we could have with said individual? To many, a leader is someone who we can and should aspire to be. The disconnect between politicians and the general public has made identifying such an individual more difficult than ever before: although Boris Johnson seems like the guy who you could take to your local pub, he could well turn out to be just another establishment politician feigning desirable human characteristics in order to gain popularity. Or at least that's what the cynical among us would say.

The Brexit Party

The Brexit Party [Public domain]Before Nigel Farage formally launched his new Brexit Party, UKIP were polling at around 11%. This figure is now down to around 3% and one of the main reasons for this change in fortune can be attributed to Farage himself. Farage is well known for being a great public speaker and, you guessed it, a charismatic leader. With that being said, this is a different Farage to the one who lead UKIP and guzzled down pints of beer at every available opportunity. He has since tweaked his appeal to the British public through candidates such as Lance Forman, a wealthy owner of an eponymous family-owned fish and chip business. Farage has always enjoyed a warm and reciprocal relationship with his followers. Does this embody exactly what is needed over at No.10? The migration of support from UKIP to The Brexit Party is almost all down to Farage taking the reigns of the latter and whether you agree with what he stands for or not, that loyalty and trust may be what has missing from mainstream politics for a good number of years.

Brexit Party

The Next EU Commission President

German MEP Manfred Weber looks like the overwhelming favorite to lead the European Commission if the odds are to be believed. In the race to succeed Juncker, Weber faces competition from Frans Timmermans and the charismatic EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Of course, the delay in Brexit has heightened uncertainty surrounding the vote - if the 73 MEPs return to parliament then Weber's socialist rivals will gain from the return of the Labour MEPs. However, the German has certainly done his bit. From donning wellies in Ireland and chatting to farmers, to stitching hand-made linen in Cyrpus, Weber has gone out of his way to warm himself to the voting public. Traditionally, European leaders effectively haggled over the appointment of the next president but this was changed in 2014 with the devising of the "spitzenkandidaten"system which favors the lead candidate of the dominant political group. With this in mind, the issue of leadership is once again an important aspect of EU decision making.

A Lack of Real Leaders in World Politics

When casting an eye over the political landscape from afar, it soon becomes apparent that there is a distinct lack of true leadership. Jeremy Corbyn is on constant thin ice, the sheer mention of Theresa May's name sends shudders down a good number of conservative backbenchers' spines and Vince Cable and the Lib Dems are seemingly flirting the line between irrelevance and apathy. In EU terms, Tusk, Juncker et al show some positive signs but without the sort of decorum needed to be true patrons of leadership. Elsewhere, Angela Merkel had a promising start to her career in politics but has since slumped, Emmanuel Macron still isn't sure what he wants to be and Donald Trump is, well, Donald Trump. One can't help but feel that the Brexit debacle would be sorted much sooner with a true leader at the helm but the lack of said leaders throughout world politics has bigger implications for both the near and distant future.

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