UK Faces Anti-Brexit Protests, Cabinet Tensions Ahead of Third Deal Vote

© AP Photo / Tim IrelandAn anti-Brexit pro-remain supporter shouts out during a gathering outside the House of Parliament in London, Tuesday, March 12, 2019.
An anti-Brexit pro-remain supporter shouts out during a gathering outside the House of Parliament in London, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. - Sputnik International
British cabinet officials are plotting to oust Prime Minister Theresa May, reports claim, over her handling of the Brexit process, while hundreds of thousands have joined an anti-Brexit rally in London; meanwhile, May is set to call for a third vote on her proposed Brexit deal.

Kristian Rouz — UK Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly planning to roll out her proposed Brexit deal for a vote in Parliament for the third time this coming week. However, observers say the chances of the deal passing in the Commons are bleak, while up to one million joined a Remainer march in London Sunday, and reports claim May is facing a 'cabinet coup' to remove her from office.

According to the Sunday Times, ministers in the May cabinet are debating a plan to oust the Prime Minister, seeing her efforts to navigate the UK though the Brexit process as inefficient. The report suggested that if May is indeed replaced, Brexit might be in jeopardy, as such a move by the cabinet would make it unclear when and if the UK will leave the EU.

An anti-Brexit pro-remain supporter shouts out during a gathering outside the House of Parliament in London, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. - Sputnik International
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However, some Tory MPs say the UK could leave without a deal on 29 March, and removing PM May could help the hardliners' cause.

"The end is nigh. She will be gone in 10 days," an unidentified cabinet official said, as reported by the Sunday Times.

"Her judgment has started to go haywire. You can't be a member of the cabinet who just puts your head in the sand," a second anonymous minister told the Sunday Times.

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Meanwhile, the Labour Party, Scottish National Party, and other pro-Remain forces led a massive protest against Brexit in London on Sunday. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined the rally, which, organisers claim, gathered up to one million people.

The rally called for a second Brexit referendum, which, remainers claim, would reverse Brexit, and allow the UK to stay in the EU.

"But it is not only our voice that has been ignored. The voice of the 48% who voted remain across the UK is being ignored," Sturgeon said. She pointed out that in Scotland, 60 percent of voters said they wanted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

However, these efforts are unlikely to produce an immediate result, even though the anti-Brexit march is putting additional political pressure on May.

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For her part, May is planning to call for the third vote on her Brexit deal on Thursday, hoping that pro-Brexit MPs and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) would either back the deal, or pass the 'soft Brexit' compromise with the EU.

However, a 'soft Brexit', which could potentially keep the UK in the EU's orbit for an indefinite period of time without a say in European institutions, is seen by hardline Tories as a 'betrayal' of Brexit, which, they say, would be even worse than simply remaining in the EU.

In this light, calls for a 'no deal' Brexit have become more prominent as well — even though it remains unclear whether the majority of the May cabinet officials share that sentiment.

Reports claim Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the cabinet's second-in-command David Lidington, and Environment Secretary Michael Gove are seen as May's potential replacements.

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However, not everyone is convinced.

"I'm advised (Gove) would also go for Customs Union plus single market with Labour votes," Steve Baker of the European Research Group (ERG) said. "Problems with that… Next."

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The ERG is led by prominent hardline MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has repeatedly called for a 'no-deal' Brexit, but recently changed his stance, saying PM May should be allowed to renegotiate the Brexit deal with the EU. However, the EU said the deal could not be substantially changed.

For their part, Downing Street said previous reports of May's possible departure were incorrect. However, the UK-based betting company Ladbrokes said there is a 20-percent chance May will be out of a job by the end of March.

If Parliament supports May's proposed deal, the UK will have until 22 May to finalise all preparations for an orderly Brexit. If the vote fails, MPs will have until 12 April to either propose a new divorce plan to the EU — which could be rejected by Brussels — or decide to leave without a deal.

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