Factional warfare hots up after collapse of May’s European Union Brexit deal
19 January 2019
The pro-Remain wing of Britain’s ruling elite were convinced that their moment of triumph had come with the rejection Tuesday of Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal for leaving the European Union (EU) and the failure Wednesday of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s vote of no confidence on the Conservative government.
Led by the Blairite wing of the Labour Party, they calculated that the decks would now be cleared for them to campaign for a second “People’s Vote” to overturn the 2016 referendum result in favour of leaving the EU.
But no such clear-cut scenario for exiting the Brexit crisis exists. Instead the factional warfare that May sought to manage in her own party in the hope of securing at least a “soft Brexit”—maintaining tariff-free access to Europe’s markets—has erupted with renewed force. In addition, divisions within the Labour Party over Brexit itself and the advisability of unequivocally backing a second referendum, which Corbyn also tried to manage with his policy of studied ambiguity, have also been brought to centre stage.
The campaign for a “People’s Vote” stepped up a gear, with Tony Blair himself demanding that Corbyn enter crisis talks with May and abandon his pre-condition of her ruling out a “no-deal” Brexit—something she is unable to do without completely alienating her “Brexiteer” wing and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which she relies on the support of its 10 MPs for a majority in Parliament. Corbyn’s positioning Labour for a possible fresh vote of no-confidence—after May’s “Plan B” deal is presented to Parliament Monday—and his proposal to then seek a vote on his own Brexit…