Advertisement
Features

May seeks a compromise on Brexit

The PM turns her back on the eurosceptics and reaches out to Jeremy Corbyn. Emily Hohler reports.

941-May-634
May: crossing the Rubicon away from no-deal

© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Theresa May made "an about-face" in her Brexit strategy on Tuesday by offering to work with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, an approach that could lead to a closer relationship with the EU, say Max Colchester and Jason Douglas in The Wall Street Journal.

Following a "marathon" seven-hour cabinet meeting, May outlined plans to request a further extension to Article 50, ideally not beyond 22 May to avoid the UK having to take part in European elections. The plan is high-risk for May, who has spent months trying to appease Tory eurosceptics: it threatens to alienate them further and successful talks with Labour are "far from guaranteed".

Kicking the can into Corbyn's face

It's hard to see how any of this can work, says Philip Johnston, also in The Daily Telegraph. Since Corbyn's likely conditions a customs union, single market membership and possibly a second referendum are opposed by "scores" of Tories and will therefore destroy her party, there will inevitably be no agreement. As for the indicative votes, we've already had 12 of those, and "every one has fallen". Now that May has kicked the can "firmly into" Corbyn's face, there's a possibility that the Labour party will "tear itself apart as well", says John Crace in The Guardian.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Even if May does manage to achieve a majority for a softer Brexit and the Tory party doesn't implode, her partners in government, Northern Ireland's DUP, will "go ballistic" because it would mean approving May's deal and therefore the Irish backstop, which they regard as "toxic", says Robert Peston in The Spectator.

There are so many other obstacles including persuading voters that it makes sense to start preparations for EU parliamentary elections in the hope of cancelling them at the last minute that I "can find no MP outside of the payroll" who thinks May's plan will work. But whether it does or not, "a Rubicon of sorts has been crossed". May and her ministers "have signalled" that they are so opposed to a default, no-deal Brexit on 12 April that they "will begin a process that could blow up the Tory Party". This "will have huge consequences not least for how long she can remain prime minister".

Advertisement - Article continues below

A general election is looking increasingly likely, says Philip Cowley in The Times. However much the public may not want one, the indicative votes have shown that it may provide a solution. Parliament came close to "agreeing a policy position on a number of occasions" the customs union ballot fell by just three votes but they are all options that "only a handful of MPs from the governing party can accept".

Meanwhile, a majority of Labour MPs "happily backed a confirmatory referendum, a Common Market 2.0 option, and customs union". This suggests that a Labour government "could fairly easily legislate" for a softer Brexit. As for the Conservatives, even if they somehow romped to victory in a 2019 general election, the party is so split that agreement on any form of Brexit stronger than the current deal is hard to imagine. An election might therefore not be "pointless", as many are saying, but it is "difficult to see how it could be good" for the Tories.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/519858/how-long-can-the-good-times-roll
Economy

How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
Visit/516758/beyond-the-brexit-talk-the-british-economy-isnt-doing-too-badly
Economy

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019
Visit/economy/small-business/601437/state-support-for-small-businesses-on-the-slide
Small business

State support for small businesses on the slide

Government aid for small firms is winding down. Make plans now.
6 Jun 2020
Visit/economy/uk-economy/601453/uk-set-to-see-more-extreme-monetary-policy
UK Economy

UK set to see more extreme monetary policy

The Bank of England looks likely to cut interest rates below zero at the end of this year.
4 Jun 2020

Most Popular

Visit/investments/commodities/gold/601444/these-seven-charts-show-exactly-why-you-must-own-gold-today
Gold

These seven charts show exactly why you must own gold today

Covid-19 is accelerating many trends that were already in existence. The rising gold price is one such trend. These seven charts, says Dominic Frisby,…
3 Jun 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/601460/disease-rioting-and-mass-unemployment-so-why-are-markets-soaring
Stockmarkets

Disease, rioting and mass unemployment – so why are markets soaring?

Despite some pretty strong headwinds in the last year, America’s S&P 500 stock index is close to all-time highs. John Stepek explains why markets seem…
4 Jun 2020
Visit/economy/eu-economy/601463/why-a-stronger-euro-is-good-news-for-investors
EU Economy

Why a stronger euro is good news for investors

The fragile state of the eurozone has for a long time brought the threat of deflation. But the ECB’s latest moves have dampened those fears. John Step…
5 Jun 2020