British PM's party may abandon her on Brexit

For a while it was looking like the No Deal Brexit was a foregone conclusion following Parliament’s failure to either approve Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiated deal or boot her out of office. Of course, that conclusion was based on the assumption that her Conservative Party (the Tories) would remain in lockstep with her and their Irish DUP coalition partners remained onboard. Both of those assumptions are in doubt this week. One MP from the liberal Labour Party, Yvette Cooper, has introduced a bill that would delay Article 50 and Britain’s official departure from the EU by as much as nine months and develop a new deal (referred to as a “soft Brexit”). This would either leave Britain as part of the EU’s Single Market for trade purposes or have them join the European Economic Area trade alliance. Both options have been mentioned as possible scenarios that the EU would sign off on, but the Brexiteers don’t like those at all.

This wouldn’t be more than a symbolic measure except for one thing. A group of May’s own Tories are indicating that they might vote with Labour on this proposal and send Brexit crashing onto the proverbial rocks. (

Conservative MPs who supported Theresa May’s defeated Withdrawal Agreement are planning to abandon her in support of fresh plans. They will rebel against Mrs May if Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s legislation to delay Article 50 is voted through the Commons. The cross-party group of 19 MPs – including five Cabinet ministers – tabled a motion that hands power to Parliament and extends the process of leaving the EU.

Labour front-bench MPs including Jeremy Corbyn are also expected to support Ms Cooper’s “hair-shirt club” proposal.

And MPs once loyal to Mrs May may seek alternative plans if Parliament votes for Ms Cooper’s Article 50 extension – which many believe could delay Brexit for up to nine months.

Up until now, a fully united front on the part of the Tories has been the only thing keeping May’s Brexit plans on track. They don’t even hold a full majority in Parliament as it is, leading to their need for their alliance with the DUP. If nearly twenty of them are planning to abandon ship and vote with Labour, May’s Conservative Party alliance crumbles and the entire Brexit process is thrown into turmoil for even longer.

The Prime Minister was supposed to be working on a “Plan B” after her initial negotiated deal failed to gain approval, but the only versions being mentioned thus far have only cosmetic changes. There’s only so much she would be able to alter the deal without risking it being voted down in the EU Parliament. Meanwhile, members of her own party are still scrambling to craft their own deals pertaining to both trade and the Irish backstop.

Realizing that the last thing the Brits are probably interested in is advice from a Yankee, here’s something I hope the Brexiteers are considering. It’s true that this has dragged on for far too long and a lot of Brits just want it over with one way or the other. But as I discussed a few weeks ago, the next EU Parliamentary elections are coming up in May. Their new leadership and Members will be seated in July. Polling in a number of countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Austria and more, indicate that there’s a decidedly more populist, right-leaning, Euroskeptic breeze blowing across the channel. When the new EU Parliament is seated, there might be a considerably better climate for the Brits in terms of negotiating a revised deal that’s more to their liking.

In light of that, as annoying as it might seem, perhaps a six or nine-month delay wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. After all the Brits have been through in this fight, any improvement at all to the trade and security agreements would probably look like a gift from Heaven to the Conservative Party and May could conceivably then steer the country out of the EU by the end of 2019 with a more stable, negotiated deal. Since she appears to be within days of losing her coalition absent some major, miraculous change, how much worse could the delay be?