May’s leadership facing perpetual crisis

Arun Srivastava

It is too premature to predict that Theresa May’s career is over. Nothing is impossible in the game of politics. The latest development has not come as surprise. Things followed the dotted line. May’s friends had warned of the disastrous effect on her moves, but she did not listen to their advice as she was firm that she would succeed in her mission.
Ever since she became the prime minister she has been facing unpredictable working environment. Every day she found herself deep drowned in crisis, but by the end of the day she would survive. The reason was that Britons had voted for Brexit, but were no sure of their own future in a country facing financial insecurities. While they believed May for her abilities, at the same time they could not repose their faith in her abilities to take the country out of crisis. They were against no-deals, but did not find the other way out. In fact, the situation was more confused by the Tory friends of her, who were egging for her ouster from power.
Theresa May suffered an overwhelming defeat over her Brexit deal by MPs voting on Tuesday night, deepening the crisis in British politics ahead of the country’s scheduled departure from the EU on March 29. May’s Brexit deal has been overwhelmingly rejected by MPs by 432 votes to 202, a majority against 230.
Though she has apparently lost the battle and it lies scattered on the floor of 10 Downing Street, May personally has not conceded the defeat and is still trying to seek a postponement of the March 29 deadline, and agree to keep a permanent customs union with the European bloc. Just after her defeat she made it known that she would invite opposition party leaders to discuss a compromise. It is something else that Jeremy Corbyn has asked her to first rule out leaving the European Union without any agreement.
It cannot be denied that the non-committal attitude and approach of the parliamentarians of the EU has worked against May. While these people have been saying one thing to May, on her back they speak something else. With the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit rising, the EU is looking at how Brexit might be postponed, and pro-EU campaigners are testing ways Britain could hold another referendum after voters narrowly backed leaving in 2016.
Just three days back the parliamentarians overwhelmingly rejected May’s divorce deal with the European Union, plunging the Brexit process into chaos. Lawmakers finally got their chance to say yes or no to May’s deal after more than two years of political upheaval — and said no. It was the biggest defeat for a government in the House of Commons in more than a century.
The vote means further turmoil for British politics only 10 weeks before the country is due to leave the EU on March 29. It is not clear if it will push the government toward an abrupt “no-deal” break with the EU, trigger a new election or pave the way for a second referendum that could reverse Britain’s decision to leave. Supporters of a second vote have been told that it would take 52 weeks to secure another referendum.
Meanwhile, May has started the process of consulting party leaders and talking to MPs about the next steps on Brexit. She strongly holds that no-deal should dominate the further proceedings. But this she is using to horse trade. She has a plan to augment her support line so that she does not have to face defeat any more. She is hurrying through multiple meetings before launching her plan B.
One thing is absolutely clear that time is running out. There are only 10 weeks to go before a no-deal crash-out on 29 March. There is much to solve and a lot to legislate. The EU also has to agree to any new approach. Though May will unveil plan B, the issue is likely to come up before parliament sometime in the last week of the month. Nevertheless, apprehensions are being expressed that May may not like to face the house. This trick she, in fact, tried in December when she postponed the meaningful vote. Now she seems to be doing it again.
May might not have acted in this manner if she did have the backing of a section of the EU leaders. She plans to bring together the nay-sayers, those who had opposed Brexit and to make close their ranks she would not hesitate from taking the risk of going for a fresh referendum some time by March or April. (IPA)

Friday, 1 February, 2019