Europe used to have a fearful respect of the Tories. But those days have long since passed. Now, the weakened party may have accidentally killed off Brexit - a pet project that most party leaders didn't want in the first place.
Once upon a time, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, the Tories filled all of Europe with trepidation. French President François Mitterrand complained to his psychologist that he was plagued by nightmares caused by the British leader and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, as unclassified British documents revealed in late 2016, once preferred to chow down on a cream pie in Salzburg than meet with the British prime minister.
Many in the UK thought a bit of fear was a good thing. Fear sounded like respect and influence - and, more than anything, like good deals. But now, after two catastrophic elections in less than a year, that is over. Completely.
"The country looks ridiculous," the Financial Times - not exactly a leftist mouthpiece - wrote recently. Indeed, the party of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher has turned into a gaggle of high rollers and unwitting clowns.
First came Boris Johnson, who vociferously supported Brexit last year to show his boss, Prime Minister David Cameron, what an outstanding orator he was even though he, Johnson, didn't really want Brexit. They both went all in, and the country lost.
And now we have Theresa May, who didn't really want Brexit either, but decided after last summer's referendum to throw her support behind leaving the European Union if it meant that she could become prime minister.
"The lady's not for turning," is one of the more famous quotes uttered by Margaret Thatcher. But her heirs currently leading the Tories are now turning so quickly that many observers aren't just getting dizzy. They are becoming nauseous.
Incompetently Cool and Calculating
Great Britain may be an island, but economically it is the most interconnected country in Europe: The financial center in London, the country's carmakers, what's left of British industry and even the country's infrastructure. France delivers electricity, water sanitation facilities in southern England belong to Germans and large airports such as Heathrow are owned by Spaniards. One quarter of the doctors who keep afloat the NHS - Britain's comparatively deficient health care system - come from the Continent.
The promise of Brexit was steeped in ideology from the very beginning, a fairy tale based on dark chauvinism. The Spanish Armada, Napoleon, Hitler and now the Polish plumbers who allegedly push down wages - when in reality they ensured that, after decades of lukewarmly dripping showers, the country's bathrooms gradually returned to functionality. Brexit was never a particularly good idea. Now, following the most recent election, Brexit is defunct. That, at least, is what a member of Theresa May's cabinet intimated last weekend. "In practical terms, Brexit is dead," an unnamed minister told the Financial Times.