Theresa May's Government Is Now in Turmoil

Lawmakers are resigning over her Brexit plan, and she might face a leadership challenge
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2018 9:55 AM CST
Theresa May in Serious Trouble Over Brexit
British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

What a mess. Reaction in Britain has been so bad to Theresa May's newly unveiled Brexit plan that she's now busy trying to fend off a revolt within her own Conservative Party to remain prime minister. The highlights:

  • Resignations: Six government ministers quit Thursday, the big one being her own Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, reports the Wall Street Journal. Raab had been in charge of helping Britain negotiate its exit from the European Union. "I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election," said Raab.
  • Why? May has been trying to come up with what's seen as a "soft Brexit," and nobody seems happy. The New York Times frames it this way: Lawmakers on the left and right "are converging around the view that the compromise she has carefully forged is the worst of both worlds, leaving Britain without a voice in the European Union but still subject to many of its trade rules."

  • A challenge: A prominent fellow Conservative in the pro-Brexit camp, Jacob Rees-Mogg, says he's written a no-confidence letter to the committee that oversees leadership elections. If 47 other Conservatives join him, a no-confidence vote would take place, reports the AP. Rees-Mogg thinks Boris Johnson would be a fine replacement for May.
  • Now what? The EU is expected to approve May's draft plan on Nov. 25. Then it would go to Britain's full Parliament, where its fate is uncertain, to put it mildly. Another pro-Brexit Conservative, Mark Francois," said it is "mathematically impossible" for the measure to pass, given the opposition in both the Conservative and Labour parties, per the Washington Post.
  • What May says: She pointed out that under the referendum approved in 2016, Britain is to exit the EU in March, and she said that's going to happen even if her deal is rejected. "The choice is clear: We can choose to leave with no deal. We can risk no Brexit at all. Or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated."
  • The possibilities: The Wall Street Journal has an interactive graphic that charts a variety of outcomes—including the Britain leaving the EU with no deal in place. Another possibility: a second referendum on whether to leave at all.
  • The pound: Britain's pound fell dramatically amid the turmoil; it was down 1.7% against the dollar Thursday morning.
(President Trump has his own advice for May.)

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