As easy as it must have seemed while coining the portmanteau ‘Brexit‘, its implementation is nothing less than a mammoth task for the Theresa May government. The recent exit of two Tories – as members of the Conservative Party like to call themselves – has become another roadblock in the long journey of Britain’s ultimate exit from the European Union scheduled for 29th March 2019.
An accidental Prime Minister, stuck with a job that she did not choose for herself, May is faced with the dual task of negotiating with the EU while at the same time not deviating much from the ultimate purpose of Brexit for which nearly 52% of the British population had given their nod.
The resignation of two of the most prominent pro-Brexiteers – Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Borish Johnson – came over the Chequers deal which proposed a ‘soft’ Brexit which did not go well with these hardliners who campaigned for a harder Brexit.
A ‘hard’ Brexit implies that Britain refuses to compromise on issues such as the free movement of people which is one of the core reasons for the formation of EU. The countries that belong to EU act as one single market which allows the free movement of goods, services, money and people within the European Union, as if it was a single country.
Another term associated with it is the customs union which implies that all the EU countries that belong to the customs unions charge the same import duties to countries outside the EU. This way, the trade between the member states is carried out freely without much restraints and customs checks, but they cannot strike their own deal with other nations outside the EU.
Currently, UK cannot carry out deals with other countries as it pleases because it has to follow certain standards and regulations owing to its membership of the customs union. With Brexit, it was hoped that UK would become a free trade area meaning that it would be able to strike deals with non-EU countries without complying with the EU standards. However, the proposed Chequers deal fails to address the issues of Brexit completely as it takes a stance somewhere midway between a ‘hard’ and a ‘soft’ Brexit allowing for the free movement of goods while limiting the movement of services, thus causing UK to ultimately be a part of the single market as opposed to a complete free trade area.
On the customs issue, May suggested a ‘facilitated customs partnership’ in the meeting in her country retreat of Chequers which is ambiguous and according to the hardliners, a redundant deal that would not allow the UK to strike any useful deals with the countries outside the EU, thus reducing it to a state that does not have a say in the EU matters but continues to be governed by EU rules.
As if the currently brewing unrest and the turmoil following the resignations weren’t enough, US President Donald Trump landed in the UK to give his trademark controversial comments on May’s Brexit plans and exacerbated the already tense situation. He criticized Theresa May’s ‘soft’ Brexit strategy, saying that it could ‘kill’ chances of a US-UK trade deal because if her strategy is implemented, the US would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK. He further went on to say that Boris Johnson would become a great Prime Minister as he has what it takes and the right attitude to become one. This comes as a blow to May who is trying really hard to sell her strategy to the British people and members of her own party.
Theresa May, who herself was against Brexit during her campaign and follow up to the prime ministerial candidature, had to switch over to the campaigners who supported ‘Leave’ as that was what the people wanted as was evident from the result of the referendum. She succeeded David Cameron to become the fated Prime Minister who had to bear the responsibility of catering to the British verdict of leaving the European Union. Even though face-to-face with tumultuous and perilous times, the British Prime Minister betrays little as she stills walk with firm resolve and steely nerves belying the internal bedlam of walking afar from the European Union without displeasing anyone. But what remains to be done is to frame a solution to carry out the proposed Brexit as planned lest Britain exits the European Union with a no-deal.