Ed's Brexit round-up - new Prime Minister needed
24th May 2019 / By Ed Barker
Well the day has come, and it has something of an inevitability about it. Today the PM finally announced she would be stepping aside on June 7, to allow a successor to try and take on the formidable task she has been batting with for some time.
This comes as she hastily put together a last ‘offer’ to back benchers on the Withdrawal Agreement earlier this week, which included a possibility of a final vote/referendum on the deal, and further provisions to strengthen workers rights and the environment (as a way to appease the Labour party).
Ironically, this was likely to be less popular with backbenchers than the previous votes put to the House and therefore leads us to the inevitable event today.
Where we go next is going to be unclear. At time of writing about 18 Conservative MPs have put their name forward for leadership of the party and therefore the country – it is hard to tell how much more this will increase, and how sincere all the runners are (it is quite a good way of just showing that you’re a big wig and to be taken seriously.
In future years it is sometimes helpful if you have a tag line ‘was in contention/the running for leadership of the Conservative Party’ – apparently it gives you some kind of pedigree.
A bit like putting your horse in the Grand National even though it stands zero chance. Enoch Powell referred to it as ‘leaving your visiting card’.
Any backbench MP can stand and needs two other MPs supporting you. If there are more than one (very likely) then a series of votes take place until the list is whittled down to two, with the bottom ones removed each time.
Those two are then put to a ballot by the wider Conservative membership, with a single winner emerging victorious. Expect lots of bloodshed and infighting (more of it), lots of plotting and lots of gangs of MPs demanding concessions from different candidates.
It could well be a softer Brexit candidate and a harder Brexit candidate which could cause considerable damage to the party in the way the Corn Laws did.
A final piece of information is that very rarely has the favourite won! David Davis, Clarke, Michael Heseltine, Ted Heath….Boris Johnson. The party is very good at pushing back against the ‘shoe in’ candidate and instead looking for other talent lurking further afield. Watch this space!
This time, others outside of the UK will be watching with keen interest.
It is hard to tell how history will judge the PM. In many cases she was bound by her own backbenchers who refused to bend to the deal, yet at the same time she did set an early narrative of Brexit that could have been very different. The ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ mantra was perhaps to most fatal as it took on a life of its own. Perhaps it will continue.