Last time we heard about Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s freshly negotiated deal with the EU was set to face a vote in Parliament on the 10th. So did they take the deal or not, Howie? Neither. May knew that Parliament would not pass the deal, and called off the vote in order to buy time and prevent a rejection of what European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker calls “the only deal possible”.
In return, May’s own part passed a confidence motion. See, in a parliamentary system, if you don’t think your leader has what it takes to keep leading, you can say “hey I don’t think you have what it takes to keep leading,” and you can vote on whether they should keep their job. If they don’t get a majority of votes, then you have new elections. Usually, y’know, it’s the opposition party that calls for a vote of no confidence. This time? It was May’s own party.
She managed to survive the vote, but a whopping third of her own party voted against her, and she was only able to convince them to keep her in power by promising to step down before the next elections in 2022. They want her to navigate Brexit, but the deal she’s come up with satisfies nobody — usually the mark of a good compromise.
See, Theresa May was made Prime Minister specifically to handle Brexit, the most politically difficult and toxic issue to face the United Kingdom since Neville Chamberlain decided to appease Hitler. Or maybe it was Thatcher and the Falklands, who knows. The point is, May’s predecessor, David Cameron, called for the original Brexit referendum as a campaign promise, a way to appease his strongly conservative base, thinking the vote would be dead on arrival. Instead, it blew up in his face, and he resigned as Prime Minister, and he was replaced by Theresa May. Nobody’s first choice, but she’ll do nicely to handle this hot potato.
In other words: a man, seeking personal gain, made a costly mistake, and then refused to solve it himself. Some other men chose a woman to come in and sweep up the mess. They then proceeded to make the job impossible, and, when she accomplished it anyway, trashed the solution she offered, and made her promise to resign once this was over.
Men screw up, ask woman to fix it, treat her terribly. Tale as old as time.
So Britain remains in limbo. Brexit Day is March 29th, 2019, so May has just over three months to figure this out. Without some sort of deal, Britain and the EU, and particularly Ireland, will face devastating disruption. She’s probably hoping that as the date approaches, her party will get nervous and pass her deal, but there are no guarantees. Other options include a second referendum, or a new deal. But a new deal would likely end up even less favorable to the UK, given the diminished good will towards the Brits in Europe, and a second referendum could be a bit closer for comfort than we’d like.
Most likely? Britain asks for an extension come early March, and this process drags on another year or so, with Britain ultimately accepting something close to the current deal. Worst case? Britain crashes out with no deal in three months. Best case? May holds a second referendum resulting in a remain vote and the revocation of Article 50. But even that would sow immense discontent in the UK. #fpf