Britain’s Brexit Earthquake Shakes Parliament
The democratic earthquake that began with the Brexit referendum in 2016 finally cracked the mold of British politics.
Three senior members quit Theresa May’s Conservative party yesterday and joined eight Labour members of Parliament who had resigned from Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition party earlier. All 11 now sit as an Independent Group in the House of Commons, free to vote how they please.
The timing could hardly be worse for the British prime minister. She has just five weeks to secure a Brexit deal and get it approved in Parliament before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union. The Commons is more fractured and unpredictable than at any time since she took office in 2016.
And it’s likely to get worse. More defections are expected, and as many as 15 of May’s own ministers are privately planning to vote against her Brexit strategy on Feb. 27, challenging her to fire them.
Yet May’s team claim she is within touching distance of a deal. Her officials are negotiating the legal fine print in Brussels, and she’s preparing for talks with EU leaders at an Arab League summit in Egypt.
If all goes to plan, May could yet have a reformed deal as soon as next week. But whether she’ll have the votes to pass it is less than certain.
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