The Slatest

This Week in Brexit: Theresa May Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Animation of Theresa May with the EU star logo over her face, one star blinking.
Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to speak to local party members at the Humber Royal Hotel in Grimsby, following the voting in the English council elections on May 3.
Nigel Roddis/PA Images via Getty Images

Thanks to the British government’s failure to wrap up Brexit by the original deadline, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born a European Union citizen this week. Will he still be one by the time he’s bumming around the Continent on his gap year? Unclear!

This week in Theresa May: During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Theresa May rejected calls from members of her own party for her to quit over her handling of Brexit and declined to provide a timetable for her eventual departure, saying it was “not an issue about me.” Back in March, May promised to quit after Parliament ratified her withdrawal agreement, which has not happened after multiple attempts, but she’s been unclear how long she plans to stick around if Brexit is not finalized. Pressure on her to step down has only grown since the party took a beating in last week’s local elections.

May has agreed to discuss her future in a meeting next week with the 1922 Committee, the vaunted group of Tory “men in grey suits” (and now some women) that oversees leadership contests. Because May’s rivals tried, and failed, to unseat her in a confidence vote last December, they can’t hold another vote until next December under party rules, but they’ve been talking about changing that rule, because rules are just, like, stuff you make up, man.

This week in Theresa and Jeremy: May still says she wants to have another vote on her withdrawal plan before European elections on May 23. She’s lost the support of Brexiteers in her own coalition, so if she wants to get it passed, she’ll need to reach an agreement with the opposition Labour Party and has been in ongoing talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

How’s that going? Corbyn says there’s been “no big offer” from May and that her “red lines are still in place,” probably meaning she hasn’t budged on her opposition to Britain staying in a customs union with the EU, a key Labour demand. Corbyn threw in a dig: “It’s actually quite difficult negotiating with a disintegrating government, with cabinet ministers jockeying for succession rather than working for an agreement.”

This week in the Greens: After a strong showing in the local elections, the Greens have launched their bid for the European elections this week on a platform of opposition to Brexit and action on climate change. European elections are always fertile ground for smaller parties—voters see them as lower stakes and are more likely to use them for protest votes—and that may be even more the case this year given the deadlock, with support likely to drain from the two main parties to hard-line pro- and anti-Brexit groups. The Greens, also looking to capitalize on the energy of this month’s Extinction Rebellion protests in London, support a second referendum on Brexit. So do the more centrist Liberal Democrats, who also picked up seats in the local elections, as does the newly formed party Change UK. On the other side, Nigel Farage’s self-explanatory Brexit Party is also expected to pick up seats.

Corbyn, meanwhile, is calling on voters to move beyond the “leave” vs. “remain” debate. Good luck with that.

This week in being an MP: Threats directed at MPs more than doubled to 342 in 2019, according to the Metropolitan Police, who blamed “polarized opinion” on political issues. Women and minorities receive a disproportionate share of the threats. Concern about politicians’ safety in the U.K. has grown since the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a right-wing extremist in 2016.

Days until next deadline: 176