The recent debacle and chaos surrounding Mrs. May’s Brexit strategy is catastrophic for the UK’s standing. However, it is also disconcerting for the EU negotiation team. Far from rejoicing at the prospect of upcoming negotiations, the EU should be reassuring Mrs. May and helping quell the nay sayers.
The Brexit negotiating team and its strategy are in tatters
David Davis has resigned reportedly due to his inability to fully support the PM’s Brexit strategy and amid concerns that the EU Brexit negotiation team would flatly refuse the proposal. Boris Johnson has swiftly (if opportunistically) followed suit, no doubt to better prepare the eventual bid for Mrs. May’s position. The UK Brexit negotiation team have had a tumultuous past year: continual infighting amongst cabinet ministers and within the party has hampered its decision making, catastrophic performances in front of various parliamentary committees has cast doubts on the government’s planning or indeed, its capacity to envisage the effects of Brexit, and the realization that the EU negotiation team is deadly serious in its task to deliver a swift divorce designed to dissuade any other partings has made the squirmings of David Davis and co all the more painful to watch. However, with Davis jumping ship, the Brexit team is set for an even more painful upcoming months – his replacement, Dominic Raab (photo) will necessarily have to adapt quickly.
May’s position is dangerously fragile but she will survive
There is no doubt that the “brexiteers” who have just left their cabinet posts will be collectively sharpening their knives in a bid to oust Mrs. May. Mr. Rees-Mogg will no doubt lend his antiquated but eloquent voice and call for Mrs. May to step down. However, the saving grace from the PM’s viewpoint is the current state of disarray in which the conservative party finds itself: let us not forget that Mrs. May became PM after an almost comical succession of backstabbing and stutters which saw Johnson and Gove among others announce and then renounce their bids for leadership. Mrs. May can reasonably rely on the same thing happening with Rees-Mogg and a few others committing the same political faux-pas. However, even if Mrs. May survives the summer, her standing will be very fragile indeed – expect her to cling on to power by arguing that a change in political leadership would ultimately give the UK a bad Brexit deal.
To capitalize on Britain’s momentary weakness would ultimately prove a disservice to the EU
From a European point of view, a non-existent UK Brexit team without a clear strategy is frankly dangerous for multiple reasons: in such a scenario, the risk of having a Brexit team incapable of negotiating week-in week out is very real, as the UK team would be battling internal policy battles of its own. Furthermore, a Brexit team that stands without political stability and backing would be untrustworthy – in plain terms, how would the EU team be able to trust a word of the UK Brexit team if they know that an imminent full-scale leadership change could radically alter the UK’s position? As strange as it may be, the EU team must plan every eventuality and use the “extra” time that it has due to the UK’s political turmoil to refine its strategy. However, it must also pray for a steadfast UK team.
Juncker needs to reassure May, in order to better secure Europe’s future
On a political level, and notwithstanding the dangerous precedent of EU institutions voicing their political preferences on internal political matters of member states, Mr. Juncker and Mr. Barnier must find a way to subtly support Mrs. May in office. One such manner would be to organize a show of unity, by sending an EU delegation of the highest level to London, even Chequers, to meet with Mrs. May. Such a mature attitude would also be a fitting reply to Mr. Trump’s economic saber-rattling as it would demonstrate the EU’s firm self-belief.