The Lady’s not for Leaving: Theresa May’s failing Brexit strategy

By Matthew Spivey

With the on-going Brexit negotiations set to be the making (or breaking) of Theresa May’s Prime Ministerial legacy, tensions are certainly rising between differing parties and more recently between the PM and Boris Johnson.  Theresa has been urged to sack Johnson and ironically not to move ‘forward, together,’ as May’s campaign mantra had hoped to suggest.

With the return of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week, the Tories will inevitably hope to deflect attention from the pressing issue of May’s Brexit strategy, and instead aim to engage young people in Conservative politics; 75% of whom voted to remain and so potentially could back May’s procrastination in securing a deal with the EU. It is unclear, at the moment, whether May is simply hoping to prolong Brexit negotiations in an attempt to secure the best deal available for the UK, or in fact hoping to evade democracy and make a late U-Turn on the referendum, as Brexit support appears set to decline.

It is not unexpected that many who voted to leave the EU feel they have been mis-sold a promise which the Government, as of yet, seem unwilling and unprepared to uphold. Since Article 50 was triggered back in March this year, the process of leaving the EU has been a slow and uncertain one, with May stating in her outlining speech in the last couple of weeks that there is a planned ‘implementation period of around 2 years’. Far from the expectation of many leave voters whose democratic majority seems now to be all but irrelevant until 2019.

Whilst I can appreciate it is important to maintain relations with the continent, it seems May is as stubborn as the EU concerning the outcome of the referendum and seems reluctant to provide the next step for the 52% of the country that voted to leave the EU. Could it be that May’s legacy as PM could boil down to her ability to avoid situations, as she is almost as competent in avoiding Brexit negotiations as she was in evading the campaign TV debates?

May is battling an unsettled and disunited Conservative party and a divided nation, as well as attempting to secure her own reputation as more than a one-trick pony; in that she has frozen tuition fees and promoted support for first-time buyers, alongside her Brexit plans. Therefore, is her delaying strategy one of calculated measure to allow for a potential U-turn on the Brexit decision, or instead a reflection of the mounting difficulties our PM is facing?

No matter the slant we take on the Prime Minister’s reasoning for not securing negotiations with the EU (over a year after the country originally voted to leave), the only conclusion to be made is that May is ineffective as the forerunner of UK Brexit negotiations. Her incompetency is clear as she is indecisive, unassertive and unable to push the UK forward into a post-Brexit era, as a result of over-cautious and ‘people-pleasing’ politics. By this, I mean that May is attempting to make all parties content with any future EU deals, but the reality of this is unachievable, in doing so she is jeopardising the UK’s image within Europe, as well as creating hostility and rising tensions within the UK population.

This is not to say, however, that Johnson, Corbyn or McDonnell could do a better job, but rather that the political landscape of the UK right now is desperately searching for a leader to rally behind and one who can ensure fair, manageable and positive negotiations with the EU. Alongside being able to reassure the concerned Remain voters of the future of the UK, whilst finally answering the demands of the leave voters who so far have been let down by the PM and her party.

Photograph: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency via Flickr

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