It’s May-day for the PM as British par­lia­ment votes on Brexit


The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Extra Saturday - Ellen Whin­nett

SHE has sur­vived scan­dals, los­ing ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment, mass Cab­i­net res­ig­na­tions and an at­tempted coup by Tory rebels. Her Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment has been found guilty of con­tempt of Par­lia­ment for the first time in British his­tory.

But on Tues­day, Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May will face the great­est chal­lenge yet to her sur­vival when the British Par­lia­ment votes on whether to en­dorse her plan for how Bri­tain should exit the Euro­pean Union.

Every sign points to the deal be­ing voted down, although by what mar­gin is un­clear.

What is clear is that next week is shap­ing up to be a mon­u­men­tal one in British pol­i­tics, which could end with a Brexit deal, a snap gen­eral elec­tion, a se­cond ref­er­en­dum, a no-deal, off-the-cliff-edge Brexit, or even a new prime min­is­ter.

May, 62, has un­til Tues­day to con­vince hos­tile Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment that her Brexit deal is the best that they’re go­ing to get.

“We should not let the search for the per­fect Brexit pre­vent a good Brexit that de­liv­ers for the British peo­ple,’’ she said this week.

So hero­ically lack­ing in charisma that she’s known as the May­bot, May has es­chewed any phony charm of­fen­sive and in­stead gone for pure prag­ma­tism, urg­ing MPs to “do their duty’’ and de­liver the re­sults the peo­ple voted for in 2016 when they voted, nar­rowly, to leave the Euro­pean Union.

Se­nior lec­turer in Gov­ern­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Es­sex Tom Quinn says next week looms for May as “the most se­ri­ous threat to her premier­ship to date’’.

“It is hard to see how she sur­vives the fall of a deal in which she has in­vested so much po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal,’’ Quinn told News Corp.

“It is not yet clear what the Plan B is if May’s deal fails, but what­ever it is, it would al­most cer­tainly need a new prime min­is­ter to ad­vo­cate it.’’

Bri­tain’s first fe­male prime min­is­ter since the Iron Lady Mar­garet Thatcher, May won the Tory party lead­er­ship in 2016 af­ter David Cameron quit in re­sponse to the Brexit ref­er­en­dum re­sult.

Her ri­val, An­drea Lead­som, stood aside af­ter a news­pa­per in­ter­view where she in­ti­mated she would make a bet­ter prime min­is­ter than May be­cause May didn’t have chil­dren. (May has pre­vi­ously spo­ken of her sad­ness that she and hus­band Phillip May were un­able to con­ceive.)

May had voted Re­main, although pro­fessed to be­ing a “Euroscep­tic’’, and the price of win­ning the Tory lead­er­ship was the job of try­ing to man­age Bri­tain’s di­vorce from the Euro­pean Union af­ter 45 years.

Un­tan­gling the tens of thou­sands of laws and reg­u­la­tions which keep the UK bound to the 27 other coun­tries of the bloc has brought her to the brink of po­lit­i­cal obliv­ion nu­mer­ous times, and her lat­est deal, which le­gal ad­vice shows would po­ten­tially tie the UK to the EU “in­def­i­nitely’’ through a back­stop, has suc­ceeded in unit­ing Brex­i­teer and Re­mainer MPs against her.

It is hard to see how she sur­vives the fall of a deal in which she has in­vested so much po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal

Uni­ver­sity of Es­sex’s Tom Quinn

Anti-Euro­pean Union (EU), pro-Brexit demon­stra­tors from the Leave Means Leave cam­paign group protest out­side Lon­don Houses of Par­lia­ment last week; May with Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son at the G20 Sum­mit (top).

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