No more ‘maybees’ about it, British Prime Minister Theresa May is definitely here to stay until she chooses to go - and on her own terms.
In a remarkable confluence of circumstances which have played right into her hands, in the space of an Easter holiday break, Mrs May has gone from ‘needs to go’ to ‘best in show’…and possibly the best deal around for both the Conservatives and the Labour Party on Brexit.
The first order of business for Prime Minister May upon her return to work after the Easter break was to call a meeting of her cabinet to update on the state of Brexit.
At the same time, the ruling Conservative Party’s influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers was meeting to consider possible new moves to oust her.
Mrs May’s cabinet meeting only resulted in chiding the opposition Labour Party, accusing it of dragging its feet in talks with the government to find common ground on the UK’s exit from the European Union.
Labour fired back a similar salvo, which just goes to show how entrenched the two political opponents are in their respective diametrically opposed positions on Brexit.
Despite ongoing attempts to craft something - somehow - that will get Mrs May’s thrice-failed EU exit ‘deal’ through the parliament, that seems increasingly unlikely with each passing day.
And it’s that very overture to the Labour Party by Prime Minister May that has put her in the crosshairs of some members of the powerful 1922 Committee - which began as a small gathering of new members elected in 1922, hence the name. In the ensuing years ‘the Committee’ has evolved to wield immense power and influence within the Conservative Party.
Mrs May survived such a move just last December.
1922 Committee rules say that a failed internal no-confidence vote can only be called again in a year’s time.
However, with deepening rifts in the party over Mrs May’s handling of Brexit, the 1922 Committee had gone as far this week as seeking to change those rules to force another no-confidence vote against her.
But Mrs May escaped again. The Committee decided there was more to lose than to gain by seeking to change leaders at this perilous political time for the party.
Maintaining the status quo is clearly more about preserving the Conservatives hold on power, albeit with Mrs May remaining at the helm.
For them, the unpalatable alternative now lies somewhere between losing further ground to the Labour Party, and the rise of the newest political kid on the block.
Attention is now refocused from a breakaway group of disgruntled MPs from both the Conservative and Labour parties who have called themselves Change UK, to the resurgence of arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).
The rapid resurgence - and rebranding - of Mr Farage has been a shock to the British body politic and a wake-up call to the cat-and-mouse game being played out over Brexit by mainly Labour and the Conservatives.
Nigel Farage’s new political endeavour reflects his embodiment as the architect of Brexit. It’s called quite simply, The Brexit Party.
The rebrand only comes in Mr Farage’s distancing of himself from UKIP - which he set up as being to the right of UK politics - but which he is now accusing of being too far right-wing.
His new Brexit Party, which in the space of a few weeks has pulled high profile like-minded Brexiteers from within the Conservative Party onto its candidate list, is already leading the opinion polls in the run-up to the ‘still-likely-to-be-held’ European parliamentary elections on May 23rd.
Brexit is the raison detre of Mr Farage’s existence.
It’s widely accepted that former Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, took a gamble in the 2015 UK general election by promising an EU referendum, primarily to appease right-wing Euro-sceptics in his own party, and possible defections from the Conservatives to Farage’s then UKIP.
Prime Minister Theresa May wants to avoid having to hold EU elections. She had already missed the original March 29th EU departure deadline and had agreed to an extension with the European Commission.
After further consultations over further missed deadlines and new extensions, the newest departure target date is now October 31st this year.
But that’s with the proviso that the UK must now take part in the elections for the European Parliament on May 23rd or leave without a deal on June 1st.
‘No-deal’, although favoured by some Brexit hard-liners within the ruling Conservatives, is not the preferred option; not even now by Mrs May herself who has recanted from her previous mantra of ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.
Nor is it favoured by the Labour Party and most of British business.
Out of self-interest, mainly trade, the EU also flinches at it.
But holding the EU parliamentary elections is Nigel Farage's Brexit Party’s trump card.
(Pardon the pun, but Mr Farage is also a close ally of US president Donald Trump).
The EU elections will be an excellent gauge for Farage’s Brexit Party which is already leading the Conservatives and Labour in the UK opinion polls as the party to 'deliver Brexit'.
What’s more important for them though, is the high profile it will bring , signalling that The Brexit Party is the new force to be reckoned with in British politics, especially in time for the next UK general election.
With the almost irreparable splits in the two main parties - the Conservatives and Labour - and other parties struggling to make an impact, the way ahead is clear for a Farage juggernaut to fill the gap.
Donald Trump did it in the United States, and like the US, British politics is poised to undergo a major shift unlike anything seen recently.
That’s why the Conservatives cannot take the risk now of forcing out Theresa May.
That’s also why she needs to do everything to avoid the UK taking part in the EU elections.
Despite the ongoing costly and legally-required preparations, to participate will be too much of a political gamble and price to pay, especially for the Conservatives.
There might be no ‘Maybees’ about it; Labour and Conservatives will need to agree on a deal to take the UK out of the EU before May 23rd.
It’s getting very late in the day…and Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party are closing in.
Remember, he had already taken the UKIP party into the European parliament where it holds the majority of seats allocated to the UK.
Many of those UKIP candidates are now signing on to his new Brexit Party.
The month of May is going to be very decisive for British politics, and particularly challenging for Prime Minister May…definitely no maybees about that.
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