It’s been over two years since I wrote my first ever piece for MCM. David Cameron had just resigned as Prime Minister following the 2016 Referendum where Britain voted to leave the EU and it was interesting to see what course of action we as a nation would take.
Cameron understandably stood down because he didn’t feel as though he was the right sailor to steer us through the turbulent sea of uncertainty that Brexit represented. We needed somebody to come in and lead this country and up stepped Home Secretary Theresa May. It was decided that May not only had what it took to lead this country, she was also stern enough to be able to command a good deal to leave the EU. A lot has happened between my first article in June 2016 and now and I want to look at Theresa May’s performance and proposal, and give my verdict on how well she has done negotiating a GOOD Brexit deal.
When Theresa May triggered Article 50 on the 29th March 2017 a countdown clock was activated, and it mean’t that we had to agree a deal for when we come out of the EU on the 29th March 2019. I’m of the opinion that such a deal is incredibly complex to negotiate and execute and two years is simply not long enough to do so. She outlines her vision for Brexit in her Chequers proposal. The Chequers proposal is essentially a three-page deal which outlines how Britain would like things to be when they finally leave the EU. It tackles issues such as ending the free movement of people (giving the UK control over how many people enter the country) and ending annual payments to the EU budget. However, there would still be “appropriate contributions for joint action in specific areas”. I think that May’s Chequers Proposal was wishful thinking, and it’s laughable for her to believe that the EU would agree to such a deal.
Both Brexiters in her own party and the EU leadership have rejected her Chequers plan. Former British Home secretary Boris Johnson labelled May’s Brexit Proposals as “entirely preposterous” and “deranged”. Whilst Johnson’s attack on May’s Chequers proposal was scathing it is also important to recognise Johnson’s underlying leadership ambitions and the political undertones to his public criticisms. What would’ve been a bitter blow to Theresa May is the resignation of former Brexit Secretary David Davis who stood down after being disappointed by her proposal which he believed was weak and she gave away “too much too easily” to the EU. Davis stood down because he didn’t agree with May’s vision of Brexit, and this to me is a damning indictment because it questions May on several different fronts. It questions her political nous, leadership qualities, and her ability to secure a good deal.
Last month in Salzburg there was a conference where EU leaders gathered to discuss Brexit, and May just seemed out of her depth. This conference was a failure on multiple fronts. It was a failure in negotiation and it was a failure in composure. She seemed like a fish out of water and didn’t conduct herself in a manner befitting of a leader who means business – it seemed as though Theresa May was on a stage that she simply hasn’t got the ability to stand on. She fatally misjudged the mood of the EU leaders by saying things at the wrong time and, despite numerous warnings that the Chequers plan as it stood would not command the support she wanted she still presented it. She embarrassed the country and we are perceived as a laughing stock. European Council President Donald Tusk has the gall to mock Theresa May and her negotiation tactics on Instagram. Say what you want about ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher but there is no way on earth that sort of cheek would be allowed on her watch.
I think it is highly unlikely that Theresa May will still be at number 10 come this time next year. I don’t feel as though she has dealt with the negotiations particularly well and at times she has been incredibly naïve. I feel as though she’s been ill-advised by people in her camp, and she seems like a dear in headlights not knowing what her next move should be.
As of yesterday Theresa May has been told she has just 72 hours to save her job!
Lots of anticipation as we wait, let us know what you think.