What Theresa May's Tough Week Means for the Future of Brexit

November 16, 2018

By Christian Smith

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan had a turbulent rollout this week, but the British Trade Commissioner for North America said the path to a successful exit from the European Union is still on track.

"So far, we are on course for the path that she set out just after the referendum almost two years ago," Antony Phillipson said Friday in an interview on Cheddar. "There's been a lot of drama, but the cabinet has reached agreement on the position the prime minister has taken."

After almost two years of negotiating, May released her 585-page Brexit proposal on Thursday. Almost immediately, two key members of her cabinet resigned over the deal and almost two dozen members of parliament in May's Conservative Party called for a vote of confidence ー which could lead to the prime minister's outster if the majority of Parliament votes that it has "no confidence" in its leader.

Removing May from office could have a detrimental effect on the Brexit negotiations, said Jackie Bischof, deputy news editor for Europe at Quartz.

"Losing a leader who has reached this point of the negotiations at this time would mean a huge loss of time, a big setback, and would create even more chaos than there is right now," Bischof told Cheddar.

At issue for many "Brexiteers" is the proposed plan's handling of the open border between Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, and Ireland, which is a member of the EU.

Hard-line Brexit supporters want Britain to regain control of its borders, including the border with Ireland.

May's proposal, however, would maintain that open border, which was established as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ushered peace into the region after years of violence.

Bischof noted that this is a deeply emotional issue for those in Ireland and Northern Ireland who remember the violence that plagued the region for decades.

"People have a living memory of there being a border, of it being very traumatic," Bischof said. "They want to avoid it."

Political infighting will likely continue as the 2019 deadline for a deal approaches, but Phillipson said he is confident in the prime minister's vision.

"The bottom line is that there was a referendum in June 2016 and the British people said they wanted to leave the EU, and the position of the prime minister and her cabinet and the government is to deliver that in a way that works for Britain in the future," he said.

For full interview click here.