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JapanNews/2019/5/26 20:10

May’s resignation announcement deepens turmoil surrounding Brexit

The Yomiuri ShimbunAfter struggling hard in attempting to realize Britain’s exit from the European Union, this resignation stems from setbacks. Britain’s ruling Conservative Party must link the choosing of a successor to the ending of political turmoil.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced her resignation. Explaining the reason for her decision, she said it would be in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to oversee Brexit. A new prime minister will likely be decided by July after the Conservative Party’s leadership election.
May’s decision to step down was triggered after she said she was considering asking the House of Commons to vote on a second referendum on Brexit. She was aiming to revive her Brexit deal with the EU that was thrice-rejected by the lower house.
The policy shift to allow a referendum, however, invited fierce opposition within the ruling party, resulting in a number of lawmakers turning against her. May perhaps finally had no solutions remaining.
Future prospects remain unclear.
The EU extended the deadline for Brexit, which was initially scheduled for the end of March, until the end of October. This is a grace period for Britain to compile its Brexit policy.
During the leadership election, a power vacuum will be created. There is no time for the new prime minister to hold substantive talks with the EU. If a hard-line Brexiteer who values full restoration of sovereignty becomes the prime minister, the EU side will also take a tougher stance. Would this not increase the possibility of a no-deal Brexit?

Take responsible stance
The May administration was launched bearing the heavy burden of the June 2016 referendum. May, who is originally a Remain supporter, set a goal for her administration to realize the referendum by delivering Brexit. Having failed to pave the way toward that goal, she cannot be exempt from responsibility for the turmoil.
May’s blunder was that she failed to make the effort to secure bipartisan support in compiling a Brexit policy that would determine the country’s fate.

Without examining the thorny issues over Brexit, such as the management of the border with Ireland, May sent a notification of Britain’s withdrawal to the EU and proceeded with negotiations arbitrarily. The draft deal is unclear in many points regarding the future trade relations between Britain and the EU and failed to gain support from within the ruling party.
In 2017, May moved to dissolve the lower house for a general election in an attempt to expand the party’s power, but contrary to her aims, her party ended up with fewer seats. This misjudgment also had a heavy impact.
For the European Parliament election in which Britain had no choice but to take part due to Brexit being postponed, the number of seats held by a new party of hard-line Brexiteers and a smaller party supporting EU membership will likely exceed that of the Conservative Party. The division in society over whether to “leave” or “remain” in the EU is extremely serious.
Upon taking office, May presented to the public her theme to “forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world” — which remains up in the air. If Britain does not take a responsible stance on Brexit, its international standing will only continue to sink.




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