Until now I’ve been a strong Theresa May supporter. After all, she jumped at the chance to become ‘The Brexit Prime Minister’ and she respected the will of the British electorate by acting appropriately on the result of the June 23, 2016 EU referendum, and she has endured a brutal schedule spending countless hours flying to European capitals to arrange a sensible and fair Brexit agreement (an amazingly thankless task that even her political enemies acknowledge is thankless) and now, she and her ministers have carved-out a Brexit agreement that EU negotiators say will be signed by all 27 EU countries. (What the EU negotiators say, and what EU27 leaders will do, may be two different things. We’ll see)
This, in addition to fulfilling all her other duties, qualifies her in my mind as operating a very successful premiership.
However, it did not go unnoticed that Theresa May is now quoting THREE possible Brexit outcomes; (1) Theresa May’s Brexit deal, (2) A No Deal/WTO Brexit or, (3) cancelling Brexit.
Whereas prior to being pressured by her party and the media Theresa May was only quoting TWO possible Brexit outcomes; (a) A negotiated Brexit deal, or, (b) a No Deal/WTO Brexit.
Which represents a big difference in political thought and a very dangerous game could begin thereby impacting civil order in the UK, and Conservative Party fortunes well into the future.
Does Theresa May (The Brexit Prime Minister!) Pose an Existential Threat to Brexit?
No doubt that every Brexiteer on planet Earth has taken it as a threat that Theresa May intends to revoke Great Britain’s Article 50 notification to the European Union if she doesn’t get what she wants.
And extrapolating that for a moment, and as Theresa May is a self-confessed Remainer; Brexiteers must assume that Theresa May is aiming for a BRINO — a Brexit in Name Only agreement.
What other conclusion can be drawn?
The definition of BRINO varies widely depending upon whom you consult; For example, Brexiteers say that BRINO will create a situation whereby (via a weak Brexit agreement) the UK becomes worse-off than if it had stayed within the European Union — many orders of magnitude worse than a Hard Brexit which is what most Brexiteers favour — whereas BRINO to a Remainer means the only difference is that Britons continue to pay Europe’s bills but with less say in EU spending, less say in EU legislation that affects the UK, and Britons will enjoy a more arm’s length relationship with the EU.
Much worse than either of those two options is that Article 50 could be cancelled by Theresa May — especially if you’re the Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which would likely be removed from power at the next election and might not form a government for decades.
Smaller betrayals of the people’s trust have started civil wars and the Conservatives would roast themselves if they allowed Theresa May to revoke Article 50 thereby cancelling Brexit. Assuming it could be legally cancelled, and assuming that the EU would agree to the cancellation.
To be Fair to Theresa May…
To be fair to Prime Minister Theresa May, her comment might have been made in the heat of the moment. We all do that. Sometimes we say more than we mean to say especially when the pressure’s on. And if that’s the case, we must remember the sportsman’s rule of “No harm, no foul” and carry on without mentioning it further or using it to embarrass Ms. May.
But if Theresa May is using the threat of cancelling Brexit in order to force her Cabinet and her party into voting for her Brexit deal, Conservative MP’s will have two choices; Hold their noses and vote for the Theresa May deal and fire her shortly after the official Brexit date, or fire her now and replace her with an interim leader who will continue the Brexit process without resorting to such threats.
However, if Theresa May is to be fired by her party for threatening to undo the result of the democratically held EU referendum to get her chosen (some would say BRINO) Brexit deal approved, she deserves to know in advance. For Conservative MP’s to gather 48 or more members on the so-called 1922 Committee to overthrow her as party leader and Prime Minister (which is allowed in the Conservative Party constitution) without a warning or opportunity to retract part of her statement would be unseemly.
In such cases where the leader and 48 or more members disagree on an important policy or part of policy, or of conduct of a Prime Minister, the 1922 Committee members should appear at 10 Downing Street and sign-in at the guest register and inform the Prime Minister of their intentions to remove her from the position of Prime Minister unless she retracts that part of her speech, comments, or policy, that offends them.
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, ERG, on Theresa May’s (Draft) Brexit Deal
If those 48 or more 1922 Committee members don’t appear at 10 Downing St. and forewarn the Prime Minister of their intentions, they risk becoming complicit in her error, or they are a ‘paper tiger’ political force powered by sound bites alone, or they’ve already made the decision to fire her at the first opportunity.
Perhaps by virtue of their appearance at 10 Downing Street to politely notify the Prime Minister of their intention, Theresa May will have the opportunity to explain to them that she hadn’t meant it the way they’ve taken it, or that she simply said it in the heat of the battle; In either case, no harm done.
At the very least, it might register with Theresa May that although she faces negative consequences in the EU as she arranges the best Brexit that she can, she and her party will also face negative consequences within the UK if she doesn’t practice the very best form of statecraft — both foreign and domestic.
Finally, I wouldn’t wish Theresa May’s job on anyone — not even my worst enemy — for the Brexit Prime Minister’s job has got to be one of the most under-appreciated jobs in the world — yet with all of that said, she and every subsequent Prime Minister must ‘get it right’ regardless of the challenges.
Here’s to a better level of understanding between Prime Minister Theresa May, her party, and to British citizens!
The Point of All This?
In Theresa May’s defence, the EU-approved Canada+++ proposal doesn’t solve the seemingly *highly contrived* (by the EU) or *vastly overstated* (by the UK) problem of a border in the Irish Sea and a hard land border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland — which is a problem that mere handfuls of politicians on both sides of the English Channel are concerned about.
I say highly contrived or vastly overstated because nowhere in the Belfast Agreement does it say there can’t be a Hard Border.
In Theresa May’s mind, she has delivered a 100% perfect deal that addresses every problem related to Brexit. And in the end, that may turn out to be 100% true.
That some of those problems may have been contrived or overstated by incredibly small numbers of politicians seems to have escaped her. Still, as long as the entire implementation period and/or temporary Customs Union membership has a firm end-date, that’s good enough for me.
*No end date* should equate to *no deal* IMHO.
- Theresa May’s Brexit statement in full (The Times)
- How to Create a ‘Win-Win’ Northern Ireland Agreement (LetterToBritain)
- In the Brexit Home Stretch there are Only Three Possibilities (LetterToBritain)
- Read the entire text of The Belfast Agreement in downloadable PDF form (gov.uk)
Written by John Brian Shannon