What to Watch as Tories Attack May's Brexit Deal: Traders Guide

(Bloomberg) -- Ministerial resignations, letters of no confidence, public warnings -- there’s a lot of anger in the British Conservative Party over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. But which bits can she survive, and what might be fatal?

Resignations

One junior minister had gone by 8 a.m. Thursday; at least one ministerial aide is very likely to go. But May could stay in her post through quite a few of those. More serious are Cabinet-level resignations. Even then, there are Cabinet ministers and Cabinet ministers. May might survive losing her pensions secretary. Losing her home secretary would be far worse.

Letters of confidence

There’s lots of talk of Brexiteers demanding a confidence vote in May. To achieve that, 48 lawmakers need to send in letters. But to oust May, 158 need to vote against her. And if she survives, she can’t be challenged again for a year.

Arithmetic

What matters about each of these resignations and letters is that they are a definite vote against May’s deal in Parliament. May doesn’t have a majority, so she needs every Tory lawmaker voting with her, as well as the 10 Northern Irish Democratic Unionists who are supposed to -- but seem unlikely to on this. She might hope to pick up a few Labour votes to offset Conservative losses, but not many. The math looks very bad.

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