The Dallas Morning News
May faces rebellion over new exit delay
Prime minister’s future even more cloudy after ‘abject surrender’
BRUSSELS — She commands trust neither at home nor abroad. Her own cabinet is a breeding ground for rivals jousting to replace her. And in Brussels, diplomats discount her acumen and treat her as a problem to be solved, not a partner to work with.
And so it was that British Prime Minister Theresa May returned to London on Thursday, faced with a barrage of questions about her political future after another Brexitinfused humiliation.
The day before, May was forced by European Union leaders to accept a delay of up to six months for the Brits to extract themselves — once and for all — from the European Union. Now, getting meager credit for sparing her country the pain of a nodeal departure scheduled for the end of the week had she not groveled in Brussels, she resumed her daily toil. Standing in front of lawmakers in the House of Commons, she offered no new twists to her strategy, as one ardent Brexiteer called her trip to the EU capital an “abject surrender.”
“I know the whole country is intensely frustrated that this process to leave the European Union has not still been completed,” May said Thursday, just hours after striking the earlyin the morning deal with her fellow EU leaders in Brussels. “I never wanted to seek this extension — and I deeply regret that we have not yet been able to secure agreement in this House for a deal that would allow us to leave in a smooth and orderly way.”
She said she would keep talking with the Labour Party about a compromise that could leave Britain more closely enmeshed with the European Union than many Brexit advocates desire.
She said that if those talks break down, she would put a series of alternatives to a vote. And she urged restive lawmakers — newly freed from Brexit pressure and on the cusp of an Easter holiday — to put their feet up and come back ready to bargain.
Acceding to a sixmonth delay gives the prime minister some breathing room. But it also raises new challenges for the weakened leader.
Some of May’s exbackers appeared to have sharpened their knives while she was busy in Brussels.
“The pressure on her to go will increase dramatically, I suspect, now,” after the deal, May’s former Brexit secretary David Davis told the BBC. He said he didn’t think she could cling to power long past the May elections for the European Parliament.
But many Tories fear an implosion in those elections. An earlywarning light could come in May 2 local elections in Britain, three weeks before those for the E.U. body. Conservatives’ forecasts look gloomy in the locals, too, according to polls.