Brexit delayed again to October … or never?

Once again, British Prime Minister Theresa May has delayed the United Kingdom’s leave from the European Union, this time to October 30. She continues to place the blame on the government and opposition while taking no responsibility herself for the ineptitude the Brexit process has endured. No-deal Brexit plans have been shelved by the Government "with immediate effect." Operation Yellowhammer, which involves "doomsday" contingencies for a no-deal Brexit, is being wound down while other plans remain in place.

Senior Eurosceptic Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) urged the Prime Minister to resign. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister refused to apologise to the public after EU leaders imposed a six month Article 50 extension on Britain, meaning the UK will almost certainly be forced to participate in European Parliament elections on May 23. A new poll suggests support for the Conservatives has fallen to a similar level as John Major ahead of the landslide defeat by Tony Blair's Labour Government in 1997.

Eurosceptic Conservative MP Crispin Blunt said that the end of no-deal planning represented a "complete betrayal" of the referendum and described the move as a "dereliction of duty". Veteran MP Sir Bill Cash asked, “Does the Prime Minister appreciate the anger that her abject surrender last night has generated across the country, having broken promises 100 times not to extend the time?” Sir Bill, who is the chairman of the Commons EU scrutiny committee, accused the Prime Minister in the House of Commons of breaking her promises and argued the Withdrawal Agreement undermined British democracy and the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, as that it ran contrary to the national interest. He concluded with, “Will she resign?

Fellow Brexiteer Peter Bone, posited, “We now have an extension of October. Prime Minister, how are you going to honour that commitment you gave to the House?” PM May argued she could still honour that commitment if MPs voted for a deal, blaming the extension on MPs for refusing to support her deal. She told the House of Commons to use the 12-day Easter break as an opportunity to "reflect on the decisions that will be made swiftly on our return" though she is expected to go on holiday next week.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis warned PM May that calls for her resignation will “increase dramatically” following last night’s summit in Brussels. He added that the election of a new leader would allow for a “reset” of the Brexit negotiations and would again open up the possibility of renegotiating the Irish backstop widely loathed by Conservative Eurosceptics and the Democratic Unionists.

The 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs discussed a timetable for the Prime Minister's departure, of May 22 that would allow for an 11-week leadership contest with her successor in place by August. Since the Conservative caucus wasted the opportunity in December of a non-confidence vote to remove PM May at party leader, the only other option to force her removal, which is a vote of confidence in the Commons, something even Eurosceptics are hesitant to employ. That would involve voting with Labour against the Government and potentially triggering a General Election, which no Conservative MP currently wants with the state of the party being what it is. Senior Conservatives indicated that the Prime Minister will stick to her pledge to stay on until a deal is ratified, which presently appears to be the end of October.

The DUP’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson asked PM May, “In these negotiations the EU demanded £39 billion, and got it; an unnecessary Irish backstop, and got it; a withdrawal agreement that would tie our hands in future negotiations, and got it; and extensions that go against commitments given by the Prime Minister, and got it. Can she give us any example of any EU demand that she has actually resisted?” PM May responded, “the European Union has been clear that the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation.