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.”
Jean-Claude Juncker: “The second mistake I made was to listen too carefully to the British government. Cameron. Because the then prime minister asked me not to interfere, not to intervene in the referendum campaign. It was a mistake not to intervene and not to interfere because we would have been the only ones to destroy the lies which were circulated around. I was wrong to be silent at an important moment.”