In no man's land with no way out: Theresa May's Brexit dilemma

In no man's land with no way out: Theresa May's Brexit dilemma

   July 11, 2018  
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In no man's land with no way out: Theresa May's Brexit dilemma

For the past couple of years, Theresa May has been criticised for kicking the Brexit can down the road and fudging the hard choices she has to make.

The past couple of days have provided a most fulsome justification of her tactics: setting out her negotiating position has opened the Europe schism in her party, triggered a leadership crisis and left her government facing a Brexit abyss.

And the obvious questions that follow are these: can she survive and, even if she does limp on, can she stitch together any sort of Brexit deal that can satisfy Brussels and get through parliament?

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On the issue of survival, the prime minister looks safe - for now.

Maximum discomfort

Number 10 has made it clear she will face down any no confidence vote, and the Brexiteer wing appear to have neither the numbers nor the appetite to depose her.

They are clear that they want to change the Chequers policy not the leader.

The two sides are then in stalemate, with the Brexiteers deploying guerrilla war tactics on No 10 to apply maximum pressure and cause maximum discomfort as they pick and choose different ways to go after her.

Part one of their campaign to kill the Chequers plan is to pressure the prime minister through a stream of resignations from her government.

Two Tory vice-chairman - Ben Bradley and Maria Caulfield - quit yesterday in protest and there are more ministerial resignations being held in reserve.

And if they can't force her out of office, they will try to defenestrate instead.

They have a new nickname for their prime minister: Lino, which stands for Leader In Name Only.


They intend to use her parliamentary weakness to their advantage to defeat her and disrupt government business. "You can't run a parliamentary government if you don't have parliament behind you."

The first taster of this will come next week when the trade and customs bills come to parliament.

The Brexiteers are working out what sort of amendments they can put down that Labour will support in order to scupper Mrs May.

Watch for amendments to curb the so-called "Henry VIII" powers which give government the power to rewrite some laws without consulting parliament. Brexiteers are confident that Labour will support them on this.

But it will be in the autumn when the crisis really hits, for this is when Parliament will have to vote on whatever withdrawal agreement Mrs May cooks up with the EU.

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Beth Rigby
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