The Strategist

Theresa May gives up

12/11/2018 - 11:28

British Prime Minister Theresa May decided to postpone the vote on the plan to withdraw from the European Union.

EU2017EE via flickr
EU2017EE via flickr
It seems that Theresa May is still not an iron lady, no matter how much she wants to be like Margaret Thatcher. According to a Bloomberg source, she nevertheless decided to postpone the decisive Brexit vote. On Tuesday evening, MPs were supposed to approve a plan for the United Kingdom to secede from united Europe, agreed upon by Prime Minister May and the European Commission.

Postponement of the voting date has already been discussed, but Prime Minister officially announced that it will take place on Tuesday evening, as planned.

Despite the fact that most politicians do not like to change their decisions, it’s not surprising that May changed her mind. A week before the vote, her chances were estimated at about 50/50, although positions of the agreement’s opponents looked preferable. With each subsequent day, the likelihood that parliamentarians would refuse to support Premier May grew. Over the weekend, preponderance of the agreement’s opponents became very noticeable. 

However, Theresa May’s desire to postpone the day of voting is not enough. She still needs to convince the cabinet, in which there is no unity where she no longer has authority.

Prime Minister May will announce the final decision in Parliament, where she will go in the evening or on her way to the legislators. And yet, many political analysts are inclined to believe that Mrs. May and her allies will take the chance to tip the scale to their side. In case of postponing the voting date, this possibility seems at least theoretically possible.

If Brexit’s vote in the British Parliament is postponed to a later date, then Brussels will be, to put it mildly, very unhappy. There’s no doubt that London is terribly tired of Europeans. Just like London, Brussels wanted to quickly find a solution and finish the negotiations. Now Europe’s patience is also running out.

Postponement of the vote seems to be quite logical for May, because it will give her time to try to convince the wavering parliamentarians that they are right. She can support her arguments, if, of course, she’s lucky, with concrete facts. On Thursday, Theresa May should return to Brussels for the EU summit. If by Thursday the voting does not take place, then we can safely assume that she will formally ask colleagues for new concessions to sweeten the bitter pill for the British and, first of all, for parliamentarians and convince them to agree with the plan of leaving the European Union.

However, it is possible that Theresa May will behave in Brussels not as a supplicant, but rather as a blackmailer. The stakes, especially on the north side of the English Channel, are very high. If the British parliament refuses to ratify the agreement on withdrawal, the probability of Brexit without an agreement will sharply increase. Everyone is afraid of this option because it will provoke political and economic chaos, and not only on the British Isles, but also on the mainland.

The stakes are high for Theresa May herself. For her, the most likely consequence of the vote’s failure will be resignation from the post of Prime Minister. Opponents of the agreement, of course, will be pleased with the victory, but it will bring a sharp political crisis and early elections in the kingdom.