Theresa May has faced a daunting two weeks of political turmoil due to Brexit. In the face of dueling views of the proper handling of Brexit from within her own party, May held a summit for key Tory politicians at Chequers, the summer home of the British Prime Minister. There, amidst discussion and debate, she shaped a position for a “soft” Brexit; i.e. a Brexit which will attempt to keep key trade ties with the European Union in exchange for concessions for various EU member privileges and direct influence from the EU over portions of UK law.
This was considered nonviable by various “hard Brexit” politicians, and the results were quickly seen. First, Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned, saying that the UK was “giving away too much and too easily” to the EU in Theresa May’s proposal (BBC) A junior minister for Brexit, Steve Baker, followed suit the next morning. That was followed quickly by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigning hours later.
The resignations created a significant problem for May as they signaled to Parliament members a break with the May government. May responded with rapid appointments of Dominic Raab to fill the space of David Davis and Jeremy Hunt stepping in to the Foreign Secretary position. She then sought to quell the concerns of Brexit-focused Tories by having her ministers work on “no-deal” plans. (Financial Times)
The “no-deal” plans are important, because despite the desire for May to conduct a “soft Brexit”, it is likely that Brussels will reject her offer. Whereas May will be presenting a deal which provides potential benefits for both parties, the EU is unlikely to accept the damage that will come from allowing a member nation to leave while maintaining some of the key positive effects of EU membership. To do so would risk encouraging other member nations to seek their own preferential arrangements, undermining the integrity of the EU.
The tacit recognition of the possible rejection of May’s negotiated offer was enough to keep Tory MPs from gathering the requisite 48 votes for a No Confidence vote which would likely have triggered the end of May’s leadership. She is not safe in her seat over the long term, but she seems to be safe for the next few months, until the next key vote on Brexit policy.
The immediate political gain for Boris Johnson and David Davis, however, has not materialized due to the absence of the expected No Confidence vote.
May is due to host President Trump on Friday. She officially hopes to use the visit to strengthen US-UK ties. (BBC) Trump’s chilly demeanor at the NATO summit, however, has led to another theory: that he will attempt to undermine the sitting leader by making statements in favor of a “hard Brexit”. (Telegraph)