Theresa May needs a friend in the Brexit negotiations
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
There will be no Brexit unless Theresa May is supported, warns Jeremy Hunt. The health secretary defended the prime minister, saying it was not about a choice between "this Brexit and that Brexit". There could be, however, no Brexit if Theresa May is supported. Britain will leave the European Union in March 2019 - triggering Article 50 has taken care of that - but there could be no orderly exit from the bloc, with the cliff edge getting ominously close.
The person who sit the countdown, with the clock ticking down loudly for all to hear, is a victim of the countdown. By setting an arbitrary deadline for her country's departure, the prime minister has limited her scope for negotiation. At the opposite side of the table, Brussels is no longer pretending to be in negotiations with Westminster. For all Britain's bluster, the Guardian argues, the EU has it over a barrel because Mrs May must "either meet its demands or walk off a cliff".
The negotiating strategy from Brussels can be summed up in two words, according to CNN: "Sign here." A footnote, only four words long, could be added: ""We're bigger than you." Britain is not used to being the weaker party in negotiations, boldly going into the talks with self-assurance of the financial depth of London, its large contributions to the EU budget, its relationship with Angela Merkel, and its size compared to Ireland. None of which have proven to be strong cards to play in the Brexit negotiations.
Time is not the prime minister's best friend - in fact, she is struggling to find any friends at all. Mrs May is "completely and utterly friendless" in her hour of need, undertaking a messy divorce.
Julia Hartley-Brewer writes for the i: "Not only has she been hung out to dry by the EU’s canny negotiators, she’s also fighting her own party in both the Eurosceptic and Remain wings (and indeed her own Cabinet), not to mention Her Majesty’s Official Opposition in Parliament."
Despite these challenges, the prime minister has insisted that "good progress" has been made in the talks. The DUP suggest otherwise, remarking that here was "more work to be done". Appearing at Prime Minister's Questions, Mrs May was attacked from all sides with fellow Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg saying that her "red lines" on Brexit looked "a little bit pink", the BBC reports. Jeremy Corbyn was more than happy to capitalise on the prime minister's woes. The Labour leader said the government should "get out of the way" if it couldn't negotiate a deal.
Politics can be a lonely business - especially when you are left stranded by both political opponents and colleagues. It is not a business to make friends, but Theresa May certainly needs them if she wants to manage a Brexit that works for Britain.