Addressing her divided party on July 15, British Prime Minister Theresa May warned that if her plans are ruined by rebels there may “no Brexit at all”.
“My message to the country this weekend is simple: we need to keep our eyes on the prize,” May wrote on Facebook. “If we don’t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all.”
As reported by the Reuters news agency, May linked the fate of Brexit to her own survival. By warning that Brexit itself is in danger, May is sending a blunt message to the dozens of hard-line Brexiteers in her party that if they sink her premiership then they risk squandering the victory of an EU exit that they have dreamed about for decades.
Some pro-Brexit Conservatives fear a deal could emerge that leaves Britain tightly bound to EU rules and represents a Brexit in name only.
The British government has also stepped up planning for a so-called “no deal” Brexit that could spook financial markets and dislocate trade flows across Europe and beyond, reported Reuters.
May called on July 15 for the country to back her plan for “friction-free movement of goods”, saying it was the only option to avoid undermining the peace in Northern Ireland and preserving the unity of the United Kingdom.
David Davis, who resigned as the UK’s Brexit secretary, wrote in the Sunday Times that it was an “astonishingly dishonest claim” to say there is no worked-out alternative to May’s plan. He said her plan would allow EU regulations to harm British manufacturers.
“Be in no doubt: under the government’s proposal our fingers would still be caught in this mangle and the EU would use it ruthlessly to punish us for leaving and handicap our future competitiveness,” Davis said.
US President Donald Trump struck another blow during in an interview published in Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper on July 13. He said May’s proposals would probably kill off any chance of a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States.
Trump had previously advised her to sue the EU rather than enter into an exit negotiation with the bloc. “He told me I should sue the EU,” she told BBC television on July 15. “Sue the EU. Not go into negotiations – sue them.”
Meanwhile, pro-Brexit lawmakers are expected to use a debate on July 16 on customs legislation to force her to harden up her Brexit plan, while a debate on trade on July 17 will see pro-EU lawmakers push for even closer ties with the bloc.