United Kingdom: Can May save her Brexit deal?
Prime Minister Theresa May is in the fight of her life over Brexit, said Gordon Rayner in The Daily Telegraph. The deal she reached with the EU to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland by keeping part or all of the U.K. in the EU customs union pleases nobody. Critics say it effectively binds the U.K. to EU rules while stripping it of any say in shaping them. Last week, May barely managed to wrench the pact through her cabinet, only to have two cabinet ministers resign, including Dominic Raab, her chief Brexit negotiator. Now five other ministers also threaten to quit unless they can force changes to the terms, changes that May says the EU would never accept. Revolt is in the air. Some members of Parliament in May’s own Tory party have turned mutinous, submitting secret letters calling for her resignation. If the number of rebellious Tories reaches 48, May could face a no-confidence vote. But the prime minister is holding tough: She warned her party that “getting rid of her would change nothing” and that if they didn’t accept this semi-Brexit, they could end up with a chaotic, no-deal Brexit—or worse, with “no Brexit at all.”
Who would replace May? asked The Guardian in an editorial. Both Raab and the Brexit minister who preceded him, David Davis, want her job. But as they are the very men who negotiated the deal, they “cannot credibly argue” that either of them is the one to fix it. Boris Johnson, May’s former foreign minister, continues to hallucinate about a perfect Brexit that will give the U.K. control over immigration and regulation yet access to the EU market—something the EU will never grant. Amid this “baying mob of MPs,” said Alexandra Shulman in the Daily Mail, spare some pity for May. She has been nothing but “gracious and conciliatory.” A Remainer herself, she “genuinely does think her deal is the best she can achieve for the country.” She’s acting “like a parent,” the only adult in the room.
May’s deal may be an “unsatisfactory and patchy compromise,” said the Mail on Sunday, but Parliament must accept it. What is the alternative? With Brexit set for March 29, there’s no time to negotiate something better. Crashing out of the EU with no trade rules in place would devastate the economy. Holding a second Brexit referendum, as opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has begun hinting could be considered, “would do grave and lasting damage to our democracy.” That’s exactly backward, said former Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Independent. A second vote would restore democracy. Remainers like me and Leavers like Boris Johnson “are now in unholy alliance: We agree this is a pointless Brexit-in-name-only” that delivers “the worst of both worlds.” The country is divided, yes, but “the only route to unity is clarity, and the only route to clarity is through the people.” ■