Socialist Worker

Brexit crisis could spell the end for Theresa May

Issue No. 2627

Theresa May in Belgium with German leader Angela Merkel last week

Theresa May in Belgium with German leader Angela Merkel last week (Pic: Number10/Flickr)

Tory prime minister Theresa May faced a growing threat to her leadership as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.

She was under pressure from right wing Brexiteers to attend a “show trial” meeting of the 1922 Committee on Wednesday. It is a powerful group of backbench Tory MPs that plays an important role in selecting the leader.

If 48 MPs send in letters to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, he could call a vote of no confidence in May’s leadership. And around 46 letters had already gone in by the beginning of this week.

If 158 Tory MPs voted against May, it would trigger a leadership election.

Brexit-supporting Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said May was “drinking in the last chance saloon and the bad news for her is that the bar is already dry. If she doesn’t turn up to ‘the ’22’ that will only make the letters go in even faster,” he said.

In a sign of the Tories’ growing crisis, backbench backstabbing and manoeuvres in the cabinet turned into more open warfare this week.

A former Tory minister told the Sunday Times newspaper, “The moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted. She’ll be dead soon.”

Another Tory MP told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that May should “bring her own noose” to the “show trial”.

The Tories have been wracked by deep divisions over Brexit—which have paralysed May since she failed to win a majority at the last general election.

Without an obvious replacement, the Tories have backed off from ousting her.

But crunch time is coming as the official date for Britain leaving the European Union next March approaches.

And even if May survives the 1922 Committee meeting, there will be further chaos.

The left should exploit those divisions in the ministry of mayhem to force out the Tories’ regime of austerity and racism.

EU rulers’ backstop brush-off

Theresa May has claimed that “95 percent of the withdrawal agreement and protocols” for leaving the European Union (EU) were settled.

Yet the Tories and EU rulers are still arguing over how to avoid a “hard border” with customs checks and physical barriers in Northern Ireland.

They have proposed alternative “backstops”—which both sides have rejected as unacceptable.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Northern Ireland would remain in the customs union and single market after Britain left.

This would mean customs checks between Britain and Northern Ireland.

May relies on the sectarian bigots of the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her government.

And it could spark a much bigger crisis for the British state.

Under May’s proposals Britain will remain in the EU’s customs union and single market after Britain leaves the EU next March. She proposed extending this “transition period” after 2020, but faced opposition from both the EU and right wing Brexiteers.

The solution to the Northern Ireland border crisis is for Britain to get out of Ireland once and for all.

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