Members of the U.K.’s Conservative (Tory) Party are warning Prime Minister Theresa May that her time is short should Great Britain be forced to take part in EU elections, which are scheduled to occur May 23 through May 26. Tories are convinced that to take part in such elections constitutes a surrender to a long Brexit delay or no Brexit at all.
May survived a no-confidence vote in December, which technically gives her until December of this year before her own party can vote again to oust her. However, angry Tories are warning May that the calls for her to leave will become so cacophonous that she’ll be forced out long before then.
May has already promised to leave her job as prime minister once Brexit is delivered.
On Saturday night, May made one more desperate appeal for MPs to back a deal, claiming that there was a chance that Brexit could “slip through our fingers.” Parliament has repeatedly voted down the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal in place.
“Because parliament has made it clear it will stop the UK leaving without a deal, we now have a stark choice: leave the European Union with a deal or do not leave at all,” May said.
“The longer this takes, the greater risk of the UK never leaving at all. It would mean letting the Brexit that the British people vote for slip through our fingers. I will not stand for that. It is essential we deliver what the people voted for, and to do that we need to get a deal over the line.”
May is scheduled to appear at an emergency EU summit on Brexit this Wednesday. But Tory MPs warn that if the best she can do is procure a long Brexit delay — which would include sending British members to the EU Parliament in elections in May — she will face overwhelming pressure to step down.
Tory MP Nigel Evans, an executive member of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbenchers, said, “At the moment there is focus on delivering Brexit, but if a long delay becomes a reality I believe the noise off about removing the prime minister will become a cacophony.”
“I and many other Conservatives would prefer leaving the EU on World Trade Organization terms to any humiliating long extension that forces us to take part in the European elections.”
Jeremy Hunt, a cabinet minister and a potential frontrunner to replace May, has been letting backbenchers know that it is his preference to leave under WTO rules, rather than allowing any long delay in Brexit.
But on the continent, EU negotiators are signaling that they will not negotiate any no-deal — including the WTO no-deal — until the Irish Backstop issue is addressed. In a joint appearance today with Irish PM Leo Varadkar, Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said, “Our goal is to protect the Good Friday agreement, peace on this island and the integrity of the single market. It is not any easy task.”
Former U.K. cabinet minister Nigel Adams, who resigned last week over May’s decision to seek help from Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, also warned that any deal with the EU that causes the U.K. to participate in EU elections next month is a non-starter.
“Over 170 Conservative MPs including cabinet ministers signed a letter to the PM last week urging her to ensure the UK does not take part in the European elections. Doing so will not end well.”
But the Tories may have conceded that they will be participating in EU elections according to an e-mail sent to possible candidates. That e-mail includes a deadline for those who are considering a run for European Parliament to make a decision on whether they will run or not.
It's important to note that this is a legal necessity, which has to be in place should EU elections occur and not an announcement that such elections are scheduled to — or going to — occur.
May continues today to negotiate with the Labour Party about a path moving forward, but it’s unlikely that any deal that Corbyn and May come up with will pass parliamentary muster.
The citizens of the U.K. voted to leave the European Union in June of 2016. The original leave date, March 29 of this year, has already passed and an April 12 deadline looms less than a week away for the U.K. to decide how it wants to proceed.
Three years have already been wasted. If Theresa May doesn’t come up with an agreement this week, she should step down for the good of the country.
Photo: MicroStockHub / iStock / Getty Images Plus