UK leadership missing in Paris ceremonies commemorating end of World War I

More than 70 world leaders, including such major notables as Trump, Putin, Merkel, Macron, and Erdogan are in Paris today for the hundred year anniversary of the end of World War 1. But Theresa May, the UK head of government, and Queen Elizabeth, the head of state, are missing, along with two Commonwealth countries that suffered major casualties defending King and Country. AFP:  

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth will attend a separate event in London, while New Zealand and Australia are holding their own ceremonies.

It is rather remarkable. PM May did travel to the Continent in memory of the conflict – before the actual anniversary:

Theresa May today [Saturday] marked the centenary of the Armistice by laying a wreath honouring the first and the last British soldiers killed in the First World War.

She visited St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium, which holds the graves of more than 500 soldiers, most of whom died during the Battle of Mons in August 1914. 

Joined by her Belgian counterpart Charles Michel, Mrs May laid a wreath at the graves of John Parr, from Finchley, believed to be the first British soldier killed during the war, and George Ellison, who died 90 minutes before the Armistice came into effect at 11am on November 11, 1918.

Their graves lie opposite one other, in what the Prime Minister described as a “poignant symbol that brings home the eternal bond between them and every member of the armed forces who gave their lives”.

Trump, Merkel, Macron, no May at Paris ceremony today (YouTube screen grab_


I suspect the reason for the snub has something to do with this, via Reuters:

Four British ministers who back remaining in the European Union are on the verge of quitting Theresa May’s government over Brexit, the Sunday Times reported, as pressures built on the prime minister from all sides.

The newspaper also said that the European Union had rejected May’s plan for an independent mechanism to oversee Britain’s departure from any temporary customs arrangement it agrees. The newspaper sourced the development to British sources, and not sources in the EU team.

May is trying to hammer out the final details of the British divorce deal but the talks have become stuck over how the two sides can prevent a hard border from being required in Ireland.

That border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland owes its origins to the  Easter Uprising of 1916, a failed attempt to establish an Irish Republic while Britain was preoccupied with The Great War. One of the major reasons behind the Uprising was Britain’s promise to allow home rule for Ireland in return for Irish enlistments to fight the war. The enlistments came, but home rule did not. The leaders of the Uprising were captured and hung, but that did not stop the agitation, and eventually, partition and the border resulted.

This is but one of countless alterations on world history that derived from this cataclysm that ended a century ago. The wounds have yet to heal. We are still working through the consequences.