AFTER surviving a No Confidence vote triggered by members of her Conservative Party just before Christmas, UK Prime Minister Theresa May may have won the admiration of even her fiercest critics for her resilience in pursuit of giving Britain a Brexit — but her way.
When the last parliamentary vote was held in December, she secured a safe 200 of the 317 votes from fellow Tory MPs, a margin of 83. Today, heading back to parliament after the holiday break, Mrs May has started 2019 just as she ended 2018: with all the uncertainty there could be about getting it done her way.
She rode into the PM’s office on the back of the June 2016 Brexit referendum that saw 52% (17 million) of voting Brits vote to Leave. David Cameron chose to resign as PM and she entered Number 10 Downing Street promising to deliver what she and her party had campaigned and voted against – and lost.
From Day One, the European Union (EU) has been determined to make any exit a bruising one for Britain. Brussels has never been in the mood for compromise — and never hesitated to send that message every possible time.
Even after agreeing to a 500-plus page Brexit deal proposal, the EU made it very clear there would be No Re-negotiation of what it (and PM May) consider ‘The best deal possible” – and the only one on the table.
Ever a skilful negotiator, PM May stood her ground all along, only shifting gear at the last minute of the eleventh hour. When her Tory parliamentary colleagues demonstrated they too were opposed to her deal and demanded a Vote of No Confidence, she blew much of the wind out of their sails by assuring them she will not lead their party into the next UK General Elections (constitutionally due in 2022, but always possible anytime).
In Britain, where it is also possible to change a prime minister without a general election, Mrs May’s stand-down has automatically shortened her stay at Number 10 (which she will still have to eventually leave if the Commons votes against her deal).
But, play as well as she may, PM May just can’t seem to find the final formula to win the Brexit game.
She was so battered and bruised by Brussels and back-stabbed by so many of her own MPs and Cabinet Ministers that Mrs May was forced to put her Brexit parliamentary vote on the back burner – until now that she cannot put it any further back.
But come what may, nothing her parliamentary colleagues and the Brussels bureaucracy do or say can sway Mrs May to do or say anything any other way but her way.
Her dream has seemed to be, all along, that when that time comes to walk out of the door at Number 10, she would be in a position to end her final remarks to the assembled press with that fitting Frank Sinatra sonata: “I did it my way!’