Theresa May is surrounded by hopeless enemies

Humiliated in Europe, in deadlock at home,...

Posted: Sep 24, 2018 3:50 PM
Updated: Sep 24, 2018 3:50 PM

Humiliated in Europe, in deadlock at home, Theresa May appears to be the loneliest leader on the world stage right now. With just weeks to go before the British Prime Minister needs to strike a deal on Brexit, there are few signs of an imminent breakthrough.

Her blueprint for the UK leaving the European Union, known as the Chequers plan, was rejected by EU leaders at a disastrous summit in Salzburg, Austria, last week. As a result, her domestic opponents and their own versions of what Brexit should look like besiege her.

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If May were looking for a way out of the political stalemate in Westminster, there is no shortage of alternatives to Chequers. The plan is opposed by both Brexiteer Conservative MPs, who say it allows the EU to keep a powerful grip on the UK, and EU negotiators and leaders, who see it as the UK cherry-picking the benefits of EU membership without paying the costs.

The Prime Minister commands little authority in her Cabinet and no overall majority in Parliament. Chequers was ridiculed in Salzburg last week by, among others, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and the French President, Emmanuel Macron.

Yet the Prime Minister's strongest suit is that there is no consensus among her opponents in the Conservative Party or UK parliament or among European leaders. May's intransigence on Chequers frustrates her allies and enemies alike. Yet it looks like she will stick to her guns.

With a deal between the UK and Brussels demanded by early November, events are necessarily moving fast.

On the staunchly pro-Brexit side are Euroskeptic Conservatives, including former Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who both resigned from May's Cabinet over Chequers. The Euroskeptic Conservatives have thrown their weight behind a plan launched Monday for a free trade agreement between the UK and EU that also would allow the UK to trade freely with other countries.

More than half the Cabinet are reportedly in favor of a similar deal that would be modeled closely on the free trade agreement Canada operates with the EU. Under it, all but a small proportion of goods face tariffs.

These models are favored by Brexiteers because they would end the free movement of people between the EU and the UK -- a key demand of politicians who want to control immigration.

By contrast, around half a dozen Cabinet ministers would prefer a Norway-style deal with the EU, according to a reports in British media.

A softer option for Brexit than May's current plan, this would see the UK leaving the EU but remaining in the European Economic Area, with access to the single market -- and, crucially, accepting freedom of movement.

The opposition Labour Party, which is holding its annual party conference this week, also wants the UK to keep access to the EU single market.

Labour is also likely to agree to a policy that -- as a last resort -- backs a second referendum on whatever the final deal with the EU turns out to be. But that is only if Labour's initial demand for another general election is not met, should May be unable to get her Brexit plan through Parliament.

In reality, a second referendum -- known as a People's Vote -- is more likely than a general election. The difference of opinion across Parliament means a vote on a Brexit deal in November is likely to end in a stalemate.

Yet, even in the event of a second vote, the question remains whether there will even be an option to stay in the EU on the ballot paper.

Another scenario that is becoming increasingly likely is a no deal, which would be the default outcome if Chequers fails and May refuses to countenance an alternative.

A no deal would see the UK crash out of the EU next March and have to trade on World Trade Organization terms with high tariffs. It is the one that sends chills through the city and UK businesses. But it is one for which the UK government is preparing.

On Monday, Downing Street insisted that the Chequers plan had not been killed off and that the Cabinet, despite reports, remains committed to it.

It is, according to May, now up to the EU to propose a compromise after the flat rejection of the UK's position in Salzburg.

The Prime Minister will meet EU negotiator Guy Verhofstadt in London later Monday. But after wedding herself so closely to her plan that her opponents loathe, she is unlikely to back down. And with her enemies all disagreeing on what she should do, it's hard to see why she'd feel that she has to.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1112735

Reported Deaths: 17652
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1450832237
Lake721711247
Allen66684881
Hamilton50838487
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Tippecanoe30654274
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Marshall9062147
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Union121016
Ohio92113
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1708292

Reported Deaths: 26587
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1785651827
Cuyahoga1669492640
Hamilton1132851528
Montgomery801921395
Summit715401199
Lucas627081020
Butler56598805
Stark535121171
Lorain41895642
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Clermont31120363
Trumbull27130616
Delaware27046182
Licking26528336
Medina25825351
Fairfield24511287
Greene24265372
Clark21980387
Portage21117281
Richland20947340
Wood20015246
Allen18870320
Miami17196348
Columbiana16795332
Muskingum16644206
Wayne15664306
Tuscarawas14329360
Marion13250194
Ashtabula12618232
Erie12602198
Scioto12416184
Pickaway12208153
Ross11639225
Hancock11448173
Geauga10863175
Lawrence10617172
Belmont10416234
Huron9765158
Jefferson9601227
Union954075
Sandusky9272166
Seneca8853157
Knox8761170
Washington8675158
Darke8365180
Athens835396
Ashland7956149
Auglaize7897117
Shelby7459133
Defiance7331115
Crawford7233150
Fulton7167112
Brown7135115
Logan6975108
Guernsey691484
Mercer689998
Highland6718119
Clinton6493106
Madison648089
Williams645199
Preble6243140
Putnam6220120
Jackson578896
Champaign578487
Perry564979
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Ottawa561999
Morrow515264
Fayette492170
Hardin485999
Gallia469678
Van Wert465693
Pike463476
Adams4569109
Henry432378
Hocking407193
Holmes3989140
Wyandot374973
Carroll363978
Paulding323851
Meigs304959
Monroe235561
Noble219647
Morgan215238
Harrison210953
Vinton186937
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