Theresa May Continues To Linger On, But For How Long?

  • Mar 26, 2019 GMT
  • Team Kalkine
Theresa May Continues To Linger On, But For How Long?

British Prime Minister Theresa May seemed to have successfully averted challenges to her leadership on Sunday but struggled to win the support of some of the fierce Conservative opponents for her Brexit plans during a difficult weekend that raised doubts over her authority and questioned her ability to continue as the prime minister. Discontent with the prime minister across large parts of the cabinet is real, and attempts have been made before as well to get rid of her, but they all failed. Presently, the decision to step down lies entirely with the Prime Minister.

On Monday, the PM held a high-stakes meeting of the cabinet, amid reports that nearly half of her cabinet were set to confront May at the meeting, pressing her to step down in return for support for her Brexit deal. An indication of what happened in the meeting could come in parliament later when May speaks to MPs, and more clarity would be provided once she makes a statement later. This will be followed by a debate on the next steps and vote on a series of alternatives to the current deal.

Since the PM does not have many days to win support for her twice-rejected deal, Theresa May sought the assistance of leading Eurosceptic critics. On Sunday afternoon, at her country residence on Chequers, she had a meeting with prominent Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, but the meeting did not seem to make any progress on the issue, and May failed to win their support for the third vote in parliament. The prime minister's spokesperson informed that a range of matters had been covered in the meeting and evaluated whether there was enough support to hold a "meaningful vote" within the week.

Senior ministers publicly expressed their support for Theresa May, amid a growing chorus for her resignation. She was helped by three of the potential candidates for her job - Mr Lidington, Philip Hammond, and Mr Gove – who publicly warned against a change in the leadership just weeks before the probable Brexit day. Mr Lidington refused that he had any interest in the job and said that the PM was doing a "fantastic job". However, the backing could not douse the growing calls by Conservative MPs calling for her to resign, as her policies come under attack from all sides.

The parliament on Monday will decide whether to take the matter in its own hands. This will allow them to vote on alternative ways, ranging from a soft Brexit to a second referendum. Against a background of a pro-second referendum march on Saturday that had attracted 1 million people, Chancellor Philip Hammond said that another referendum was "a "perfectly coherent proposition" that "deserves to be considered". By Sunday evening, a petition demanding a halt in the Brexit process had gained more than 5 million signatures.

However, the government remains opposed to a second referendum or a softer Brexit. Theresa May, after the European Union's Summit, had claimed that no-deal Brexit was still on the cards. Stephen Barclay, Brexit secretary, warned against it and noted that this might lead to a general election. The government hopes that the risk of an election may force Tory MPs to back the current deal. It must be noted that an election would require a longer delay to Brexit, which would certainly need the UK to take part in European parliamentary elections on May 23.

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