Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to succeed Theresa May as Britain’s next prime minister, said he would withhold a previously agreed 39 billion pound Brexit payment until the European Union gives Britain better exit terms. The EU has repeatedly said it will not reopen discussion of the Brexit transition deal it reached with May last year, which British lawmakers have rejected three times, prompting May to announce her resignation earlier this month. May stepped down as leader of the governing Conservatives on Friday. Johnson, a former foreign secretary in May’s cabinet, is popular with ordinary Conservative Party members, who will decide between the two candidates who come top in a series of votes by Conservative lawmakers over the coming weeks. “I always thought it was extraordinary that we should agree to write that entire cheque before having a final deal. In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant,” Boris Johnson told the Sunday Times. Britain is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31. If Parliament does not approve a deal – and the government does not ask the EU for another delay – there risks being major economic disruption from a disorderly departure. The 39 billion pounds represents outstanding British liabilities to the EU, which would be paid over a number of years according to the withdrawal agreement negotiated by May. Johnson also said border arrangements with Ireland should be settled only as part of a long-term agreement, rejecting a “backstop” which would
Michael Gove, a leading contenders to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, said he would delay Brexit rather than rush into a no-deal exit that could trigger an election that would propel Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to power. The United Kingdom could be heading towards a constitutional crisis over Brexit as many of the candidates vying to succeed May are prepared to leave the EU on Oct. 31 without a deal but parliament has indicated it will try to thwart such a scenario. Nearly three years since the United Kingdom voted 52%-48% to leave the EU, the ruling Conservative Party had its worst result in centuries in a European election last month, and opinion polls indicate a snap election would produce a hung parliament. Gove, who scuppered the 2016 leadership bid of former foreign minister Boris Johnson by withdrawing his support at the last moment to run himself, said he would seek a further delay to Brexit if efforts to renegotiate the deal were close to a breakthrough. “Would it really be in our best interests to opt for a no-deal exit when just a little more time and effort could make all the difference?” Michael Gove said in an article in the Daily Mail newspaper. Other contenders – including Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid – have said they would seek to negotiate a deal but, if that were not possible, they would then lead the world’s fifth largest economy out of the EU without any agreement.
“During both time periods outlined above, the (proposed) defendant repeatedly lied and misled the British public as to the cost of EU membership, expressly stating, endorsing or inferring that the cost of EU membership was 350 million pounds ($442 million) per week,” the application against Boris Johnson said.
The European Union will not renegotiate the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May agreed, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday, as concerns grew that a successor to May could trigger a confrontation with the bloc. Brexit is up in the air after Theresa May announced plans to step down, triggering a leadership contest in the ruling Conservative Party that could bring a new prime minister to power who wants a much more decisive break with the EU. One of the candidates, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said it would be “political suicide” to pursue a no-deal Brexit, a reprimand to frontrunner Boris Johnson who said last week that Britain should leave with or without a deal by the end of October. Hunt, who voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum but now accepts Brexit, said he would try for a new agreement that would take Britain out of the EU customs union while “respecting legitimate concerns” around the Irish border. The EU, though, said there would be no renegotiation. “I will have a short meeting with Theresa May, but I was crystal clear: There will be no renegotiation,” Jean-Claude Juncker said before a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he believed the risk of Britain crashing out of the bloc without any divorce agreement was growing. “Well I think there is a growing risk of a no deal. There’s a possibility that the new British prime minister may try to
Theresa May became prime minister in 2016 with one overriding goal: to lead Britain out of the European Union. Three years on, the U.K. is still in the EU, and May’s time in 10 Downing St. is ending. She announced Friday that she will step down as Conservative leader on June 7, remaining as caretaker prime minister during a party leadership contest to choose her successor. She will be remembered as the latest in a long line of Conservative leaders destroyed by the party’s divisions over Europe, and as a prime minister who failed in her primary mission. But history may also see her as a leader who faced a devilishly difficult situation with stubborn determination. The daughter of a rural Anglican vicar, May attended Oxford University and worked in financial services before being elected to Parliament in 1997. She was quiet and diligent, but also ambitious. One university friend later recalled that May hoped to be Britain’s first female prime minister, and “was quite irritated when Margaret Thatcher got there first.” She was not a natural political campaigner; her stiff public appearances as prime minister landed her the nickname “The Maybot.” Her only touches of flamboyance are a fondness for bold outfits and accessories like brightly patterned kitten-heel shoes. But she soon established a reputation for solid competence and a knack for vanquishing flashier rivals. May served for six years in the notoriously thankless job of home secretary, responsible for borders, immigration and law and order. In 2016, she
Fighting back tears, Theresa May said on Friday she would quit after failing to deliver Brexit, setting up a contest that will install a new British prime minister who could pursue a cleaner break with the European Union. May’s departure deepens the Brexit crisis as a new leader, who should be in place by the end of July, is likely to want a more decisive split, raising the chances of a confrontation with the EU and potentially a snap parliamentary election. Former foreign minister Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace May, was first out of the blocks, saying Britain should be prepared to leave the EU without a deal to force the bloc to offer a “good deal”. Current foreign minister Jeremy Hunt also confirmed he would run for the leadership just hours after May, her voice cracking with emotion, said she would resign as Conservative Party leader on Friday, June 7, setting up a contest to succeed her. “I will shortly leave the job that has been the honour of my life to hold,” May said outside her Downing Street official residence with her husband, Philip, looking on. “The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last. “I do so with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love,” said the usually reserved May. May, once a reluctant supporter of EU membership who won the top job in the turmoil that followed the 2016 Brexit referendum,
Prime Minister Theresa May set out on Tuesday a “new deal” for Britain’s departure from the European Union, offering sweeteners to opposition parties in her fourth attempt to break an impasse in parliament over Brexit. Three years since Britain voted to leave the EU and almost two months after the planned departure date, May is mounting a last bid to try to get the deeply divided parliament’s backing for a divorce deal and leave office with some kind of legacy. The odds do not look good. Despite offering what she described as “significant further changes”, many lawmakers, hardened in their positions, have already decided not to vote next month for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, legislation which implements the terms of Britain’s departure. Speaking at the headquarters of PricewaterhouseCoopers, May appealed to lawmakers to get behind her deal, offering the prospect of a possible second referendum on the agreement and closer trading arrangements with the EU as incentives. “I say with conviction to every MP or every party: I have compromised, now I ask you to compromise,” she said. “We have been given a clear instruction by the people we are supposed to represent, so help me find a way to honour that instruction, move our country and our politics and build the better future that all of us want to see.” By offering the possibility of holding a second vote on her deal and a compromise on customs arrangements, May hopes to win over opposition Labour lawmakers, whose votes she
Britain’s tumultuous divorce from the European Union was again in disarray on Friday as last-ditch cross-party talks teetered on the brink of failure in the twilight of Prime Minister Theresa May’s premiership. Nearly three years after the United Kingdom unexpectedly voted in a referendum to leave the EU, it is still unclear how, when or if it will ever indeed quit the European club it joined in 1973. Brexit talks between May’s Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party are about to close without an agreement, the BBC said, hours after May agreed on Thursday to set out a timetable for her departure in early June. “If the talks are not going anywhere, from my point of view that leads to only one conclusion,” Hilary Benn, the chairman of parliament’s Brexit committee, told BBC radio. “There are only two ways out of the Brexit crisis that we’ve got: either parliament agrees a deal or we go back to the British people and ask them to make the choice.” After the Brexit deal that May struck with Brussels was defeated a third time by parliament, she announced on April 2 that she would open talks with Labour. But the two parties have failed to agree on major issues such as the opposition party’s demand for a post-Brexit customs union. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist who voted against membership of the EU in 1975, has said that May refused to budge on key demands. May’s hands have been tied, knowing that
Brexit-supporting rebels in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party said on Wednesday they would vote down her European Union divorce deal when she brings it back to parliament next month. Britain had been due to leave the EU on March 29 but parliament has three times rejected the withdrawal agreement May struck with Brussels. The United Kingdom is now scheduled to leave, with or without a deal to smooth the exit, by Oct. 31. Defeat in the vote would likely spell the end of May’s divorce deal and probably her premiership. May will bring a Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), which implements the departure terms, to parliament for a vote in the week beginning June 3, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said, just as U.S. President Donald Trump begins a divisive state visit to Britain. “I have talked to colleagues, some of whom voted for it last time, and they think it is dead and they will vote against it this time,” Peter Bone, a Conservative lawmaker and Brexit supporter, told Talk Radio. “It seems absurd to bring it back. It is the same thing again, again and again.” May, who became prime minister in the chaos that followed the 2016 referendum in which Britons voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU, is under pressure from some of her own lawmakers to set a date for her departure. As well as the Brexit deadlock, the Conservative Party suffered major losses in local elections this month and is trailing in opinion
“While 63 percent of leavers say they will vote for the Brexit Party in the European elections, the most popular party among remainers (Labour) only has 31 percent, versus 22 percent for the Lib Dems and 14 percent for the Greens,” Adam Drummond, head of political polling at Opinium said.
Britain will eventually leave the European Union and agree a free-trade deal with the bloc, according to the vast majority of economists polled by Reuters who were, however, split on whether the two sides would divorce on Oct. 31.
Prime Minister Theresa May failed to get her Withdrawal Agreement ratified by the British parliament on three attempts so the EU allowed a Brexit delay until the end of October, giving May time to try to convince lawmakers to reach agreement.
When asked if the latest deadline - delayed from March 29 - would be extended, 17 of 33 economists who answered an extra question in the May 3-10 Reuters poll said it would not.
“Failure to come to an agreement runs the risk that the EU will simply lose patience in October and not grant any extension,” said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.
“We are by no means out of the woods.”