Right-wing Tory Brexiters increasingly banking on long delay to Brexit rather than Theresa May’s short version – to count down the clock until next move to remove May in December and install Boris Johnson. It will not bode well for UK’s Brexit prospects
According to parliamentary sources, the right-wing Brexit ultras of the Tory party are increasingly, albeit privately, dropping their opposition to a long Brexit extension in spite of previous loud noises about a May ‘Brexit betrayal’ if she asks the EU for a longer delay than the 22 May maximum currently in place or the 30 June revised date she is now asking.
The reason for this apparent about-face is simple – after Theresa May survived the Conservatives’ previous confidence vote in her last December, the party’s rules allow no further challenges within the party to her leadership until twelve months have elapsed.
A long Brexit delay would therefore allow the Tory right to run down the clock until a fresh challenge can be made, while ramping up the talk of betrayal and the risk of ‘no Brexit at all’, to solidify and grow their support among Tory MPs for a new no-confidence move this December.
If they succeed, the intention is to install Boris Johnson and leave the EU with a Canada-style ‘venture-capitalist-friendly’ deal. The practical difficulties of preventing this outcome, barring a deal by 22 May (or 30 June if granted) are considerable.
While the advocates of a new referendum are attempting to claim an inexorable momentum toward their prize, in reality the dangers of a hard Brexit are greater than ever – Johnson would probably opt for a ‘crash-out’ no-deal exit followed by a a quickly negotiated Canada-style trade deal.
And he wouldn’t even need a parliamentary majority for it.
Today, 57% of Tory MPs today defied May’s instructions to vote for an Article 50 extension – in the Tory world-view, any PM who opts for no-deal exit will become an immediate hero to a large part of the parliamentary party and to most of the party’s ordinary members.
Any opponents of a ‘hard, Tory Brexit’ should be crossing everything they have that Jeremy Corbyn manoeuvres May into an acceptable, customs-union Brexit deal in plenty of time for implementation before 22 May, to avoid the serious and substantial risk of a Brexit that will suit few except the wealthiest.
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