May's Balancing Act as She Refuses to Commit on No-Deal Brexit

(Bloomberg) --

Theresa May refused to say how she would instruct politicians in her Conservative Party to vote on a no-deal split from the European Union if her agreement with the bloc is rejected as expected next week.

She wouldn’t even say how she’d vote herself.

At the end of a speech in Grimsby, on England’s east coast, the prime minister was asked repeatedly which way she’ll jump in the vote that is likely to come on Wednesday. Again and again she replied that her focus is on the day before, when members of Parliament will be asked to approve her deal.

As things stand, not enough Tory MPs are likely to vote with her on Tuesday, meaning that May will have to bring back further votes on Wednesday and Thursday on leaving the EU without an agreement and on extending negotiations.

Brexit supporters argue that May should vote for no-deal, and instruct her party to do the same. But that would risk provoking multiple ministerial resignations, so she’s more likely to designate it a “free vote,” where there are no party instructions to follow.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.