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Hobbled Theresa May faces crucial Brexit phase

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, as laid out in the exit schedule in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

world Updated: Nov 13, 2017 22:04 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
British Prime Minister Theresa May,European Union,Brexit
British Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London on November 12, 2017 to commemorate servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since World War 1.(AFP)

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday tried to overcome internal jolts of two cabinet ministers leaving last week by focusing on crunch issues of leaving the European Union, even as the pound took a beating by Brexit-related developments.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, as laid out in the exit schedule in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The deadline has added urgency to British and European business leaders, given the existing close arrangements and the need to plan ahead. Rupturing those ties has major implications, but despite several talks in Brussels, business is no wiser yet on life after Brexit.

The pound shed almost a cent to $1.309 on Monday, as top business leaders trooped into Downing Street to meet May and seek clarity on key issues facing them.

Over 900 Indian companies are based in Britain, many of whom use the base to access the European market. Indian business sources told HT that only a small number are major players, who have already put in place contingency plans, with offices in European capitals.

Brexit continued to take a toll on domestic politics and government, with most of Whitehall’s energies focussed on preparing for it, even though politically, the May government is nowhere near the promise of “a strong and stable government” which the Tories campaigned for.

Hobbled by a lack of majority, the government faces uncertainty in the House of Commons on a crucial EU withdrawal bill, with opposition and ruling party MPs tabling a large number of amendments. It remains unclear if Parliament will have a final say on the deal or not.

Tensions between those favouring a “hard Brexit” and “soft Brexit” continue, with leading lights in the government backing both sides.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson and environment secretary Michael Gove fell out during last year’s leadership tussle, but joined hands to make what is being called an “Orwellian” set of demands on a “hard Brexit” in a secret letter to May last week.

First Published: Nov 13, 2017 18:55 IST