So just another normal week in UK politics? Two leading Cabinet figures have resigned, backbenchers are in open revolt against their Prime Minister and oh, the President of the United States has come to town. Politics is pretty boring at the moment!
However, let’s try to be serious for a moment. What is the current state of Brexit? Is the Prime Minister stronger or weaker? And, lastly what happens next?
So the first question; Brexit. The UK Government has now at least officially set out their position. A White Paper has been published which offers a base for negotiations. Presently, the EU has offered a muted reaction to the White Paper. It is unlikely the EU will accept the offer as it currently stands but in terms of reaching a final agreement it may bring the parties closer together.
Let’s move to the next question. Because if May cannot get the deal through Parliament and her party then it does not matter what deal she reaches with the EU, it will not be implemented.
The Prime Minister does in theory have a Cabinet united behind her, but with these plans has lost a lot of her backbenchers. Yet, these backbenchers might have the numbers to disrupt her plans but do not yet have the numbers to take her down. The 48 letters have not come in and there has been no vote of confidence. To that extent although the Cabinet has changed I don’t think the larger picture has. The Prime Minister is weak but cannot be removed and we might have a White Paper but the Conservative Party is still irrevocably divided.
What happens next? Who knows? There is a very real chance of stalemate. If the Brexiteers want to continue to cause havoc then they can bring the Government to a standstill. This could start with the Customs Bill next week and end with them opposing the final deal.
Is there anything the Prime Minister can do? Well, without changing her plans probably not. It is hard to see the most fervent Eurosceptics ever accepting these plans. However, the Prime Minister seems in no mood to give any ground. So, stalemate maybe? Plans that won’t change but yet won’t get through Parliament and opponents who want the Prime Minister out but can’t remove her.
Who blinks first?
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph; The Metro