Tory right is playing for time until December – when another attempt can be made to topple May
Theresa May’s humiliation – entirely unsurprisingly – has continued, as she was forced to accept a Brexit delay until 31 October after asking the EU to give her until 30 June.
EU leaders had wanted a year’s extension – and will get one – but appear to be prepared to do so in phases. They know they have the upper hand over a dire May and can afford to take their time.
The SKWAWKBOX revealed yesterday that the plan of many of the Conservatives’ hardest Brexiteers now includes a long Brexit delay – to at least December. While their public display may still include shows of outrage and cries of betrayal, in many cases this will be pure theatre for their supporters.
In reality, they now don’t want Brexit to be completed until they’ve had another chance to topple May – and under Tory rules no further no-confidence attempt can be made until December, twelve months after May survived the last one.
Any successful leadership candidate would need to win the support of what remains of the Tory party’s membership, which overwhelmingly prefers a no-deal exit – and a successful coup would quickly be followed by a hard Brexit triggered by a right-wing leader.
A new referendum is not only unachievable but would make matters worse – deepening division and hardening attitudes among a public that largely just wants the dreary saga finished.
The UK’s hopes of avoiding such a dismal outcome therefore rest on Jeremy Corbyn’s chance of manoeuvring May into accepting a customs union as part of a revised Brexit package – ideally before the fiasco of the UK participating in rushed elections to the European Parliament that would strengthen an extreme right expecting to perform well on the back of a frustrated-Brexiteer protest vote.
The EU has made it clear that it would welcome such a deal with open arms – but does Theresa May have the sense and backbone to accept Corbyn’s offer?
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