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The challenges ahead for Britain’s next PM

This will bring Britain the closest it has been so far to a full break with the EU, without any sort of economic union. This will deliver a sharp economic cost to Britain, driving its economy into recession and making it far less attractive as an investment site for Indian and other foreign investors

editorials Updated: May 27, 2019 08:09 IST
Hindustan Times
britain,brexit,theresa may
Outsiders have watched with a mix of awe and embarrassment at how Ms May has stoically stumbled from one Brexit humiliation to another over the past two years.(AFP)

The ruling Conservative Party has begun the process of choosing a new prime minister for Britain following Theresa May’s announcement that she will resign her office on June 7. The next prime minister will face the same political minefield that May was unable to navigate. There will be three main sources of danger. One is bridging the gaps within the Conservatives about what sort of Brexit will Britain carry out. This division, and the seeming impossible task of finding a middle path between hardline “no deal Brexiteers” and those who want some sort of soft economic union, has been the primary reason the May prime ministership failed. Two is ensuring that any such resolution will not drive large numbers of voters into the hands of the new right-wing Brexit party or towards the liberal-left opposition. Finally, to then sell any Brexit deal to the European Union and, preferably, find means to smoothen the sharper economic consequences of a clean break.

Outsiders have watched with a mix of awe and embarrassment at how Ms May has stoically stumbled from one Brexit humiliation to another over the past two years. When her cabinet mutinied, she accepted her time was up.

The problem is Britain is no closer to a viable Brexit plan than before. The Conservatives now seem set to choose a hardline Brexiteer as the next prime minister. If so, this will bring Britain the closest it has been so far to a full break with the EU, without any sort of economic union. This will deliver a sharp economic cost to Britain, driving its economy into recession and making it far less attractive as an investment site for Indian and other foreign investors. Since it is assumed this will not be palatable to any prime minister, a new round of intra-party squabbling can be expected. But the Brexit debate has lurched strongly to the right with May’s announcement. Divorce, without visitation rights or alimony, is now a much stronger denouement to the continuing drama of Brexit.

First Published: May 27, 2019 08:09 IST