Britain’s disorientation in leaving EU

Wednesday, 2019-06-12 15:52:30
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British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO - British Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of stepping down as leader of the Conservative Party is officially triggering a lively contest in British politics to replace her.

In the context of a divided country with many different views about Brexit (the UK leaving the European Union - EU), the new prime minister of the ‘land of mist’ is still facing difficulties in finishing the process of leaving the EU.

The British PM has recently announced her resignation as leader of the Conservative party after failing to convince members of parliament to approve the Brexit deal that was reached in late 2018.

As planned, May will continue to work as prime minister during the election for the Conservative Party’s leader that is expected to last around six weeks. During the remainder of her time in office, she will focus on the domestic agenda.

The British press said that there were at least 13 candidates who had declared their intention to join the leadership race of the ruling the Conservative Party, which would mean becoming the new prime minister of Britain. At the time when the contest to choose a new prime minister is heating up, the British political circles, including many candidates, expressed their views on Brexit. However, British politicians’ opinions showed that they are ‘looking in different directions’ in terms of Britain's exit from the European Union.

Other contender British interior minister Sajid Javid paid his attention to the Irish Border which was considered as a ‘key’ to remove the deadlock for Brexit. In an interview with Sky News,he said that he would propose to pay hundreds of millions of pounds to find a post-Brexit border solution with Ireland.

Different from the points of view above, environment minister Michael Gove said he would prepare to delay Brexit for a few days or weeks beyond the current exit date of October 31 if Britain choose a solution of signing an exit deal with the EU.

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, one of the prime minister candidates, believed that the EU would renegotiate the Brexit divorce deal and said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed the same idea. He also noted that the Brexit deal is the only way for Britain to avoid a general election.

Meanwhile, former foreign minister Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to succeed Theresa May as Britain's PM, prioritised a Brexit payment. According to him, financial issues play an important role for a benifitional Brexit deal. Johnson said he would withhold the previous Brexit payment until the European Union gives Britain better exit terms.

The above opinions showed that the candidates for British PM have not yet given the overall and feasible orientations and solutions for the most difficult issues in Brexit negotiations over the past years. In fact, the EU has recently repeatedly said that it would not renegotiate the Brexit deal agreed in late 2018. Meanwhile, the UK will still face the problem of the Irish Border and solutions raised by the prime minister candidates could not remove the deadlock.

The EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said last week any new prime minister will still face the problem of the Irish border after Brexit. He noted that managing the sensitive Irish border and designing an emergency “backstop” solution to prevent the return of extensive controls after Brexit has proven the most contentious element of the divorce negotiations.

Also according to the EU’s Brexit negotiator, in the current state, is to know whether the UK still wants to leave in an orderly manner. If this answer is ‘yes’, the Withdrawal Agreement is the only one possible, he added. In addition, the EU official said the bloc would never choose a ‘no-deal Brexit’ and concluded that the key issue was peace, people and stability in Ireland.

From the facts above, it can be seen that since Britain was determined to leave the EU in 2016, the Brexit process has so far been almost stuck in place after a lot of controversy as well the replacement of the prime minister. The UK is still stuck in the most fundamental problems of leaving the EU such as the Irish border and the Brexit payment. Therefore, in the context ofa divided country with many different views, no matter who is in the ‘hot seat’, the UK is still disoriented in regards to leaving theEU and Brexit will remain a "deadlock story".