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  • Theresa May has set a date for her departure as prime minister.

  • Verdicts and judgments on her period in office are going to be flooding in over the next few days.

  • It's certainly the case that she was set an impossible problem with delivering Brexit.

  • But she made that problem immeasurably harder for herself by her failure to communicate her own strategy for doing so.

  • "Brexit means Brexit, and we're going to make a success of it."

  • She started off as an imperious figure going out to bat for Britain, and get a great deal, and show strength rather than weakness.

  • She ended up arguing for compromise.

  • And If you're going to do that you have to start off arguing for compromise, not get there at the end.

  • "In order to get the best deal for Britain we need to ensure we've got that strong and stable leadership."

  • In the end she's been let down by her shortcomings as a political tactician and a political operator, as much as by the complexity of the situation that she faced.

  • Her game plan was to deliver Brexit, to get a deal with the European Union, and to keep the Conservative party together at the same time.

  • And these three things were very, very hard to reconcile.

  • So what comes next?

  • Well there's going to be a Conservative party leadership election.

  • It's going to start the week of June the 10th.

  • It'll be whittled down to a shortlist of two by MPs over the course of that week, and then Conservative party members will choose the successor.

  • "Do you think you're too divisive a character to be Tory leader?"

  • The front-runner to succeed her will certainly be Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary and leading figure in the Leave campaign.

  • But the Conservative party has a track record of not picking its front-runners, and this is going to be a very, very large field.

  • So you certainly can't take it for granted that he's going to emerge as the winner in the end.

  • So where does this actually leave the issue of Brexit, the issue that has fundamentally brought down Theresa May?

  • The obvious immediate conclusion is that it makes a no-deal exit more likely, but that's not the same as making it definite.

  • None of the candidates are actually going to advocate a no-deal Brexit.

  • But what they will say is that they are prepared to see a no-deal Brexit if they can't get the right deal for Britain.

  • And in particular, that means junking the hated Northern Ireland backstop designed to create a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

  • The fundamental problem with going down that path remains the hostility of the House of Commons, which does not want to see a no-deal Brexit.

  • It is true that constitutionally it's very hard to stop a prime minister set on doing this.

  • But there are ways, including a vote of confidence designed to bring down the government.

  • That would require some Conservatives being ready to bring down their party in order to prevent this.

  • But there are a handful who might be prepared to do that.

  • And the Conservatives will know that a general election at this time is not a welcome prospect.

  • They will all be very scared of it.

  • And none of them will want to elect a leader who's going to plunge them into a general election very soon.

  • Especially after what we expect to be catastrophic European parliamentary elections.

  • We get the results Sunday night and Monday morning.

  • They're almost certain to be the worst results the Conservative party have ever had in any election ever.

  • "It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum."

  • "To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in parliament, where I have not."

  • "Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise."

  • The most interesting part of Theresa May's resignation speech in Downing Street was where she said:

  • That the next leader is going to have to proceed in the spirit of compromise.

  • They're going to have to find a compromise.

  • And that was very interesting because the party clearly is in no mood to compromise over Brexit.

  • The leader may have changed but the parliamentary arithmetic and the problems have not.

Theresa May has set a date for her departure as prime minister.

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Brexit: why Theresa May failed to deliver

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    Celeste posted on 2019/06/08
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