This comes after an earlier warning that up to 80 Conservative MPs were poised to vote against the May's Chequers proposal. Sputnik discussed the situation with Dr. Ben Williams, a tutor in politics and political theory at the University of Salford.
Sputnik: How bad is the situation for Theresa May now?
Dr. Ben Williams: There’s no doubt that she is under significant pressure. And the pressure has been building the closer we get to this deadline, which is next March, which is the date when Britain is supposed to formally be leaving the EU.
There’s a hard core in her party and there always has been, and you could argue that it’s growing, who are very hostile to the EU, who push for Britain to leave and who want the country to achieve what they would see as the cleanest Brexit possible, which means cutting most of the links that we currently have with the EU completely.
So, I think they are taking the view that if she is going to sell them down the river with the so-called Chequers agreement, they take the view they’d rather remove her and have a leader in place who won’t take that view.
That’s the situation she is in. The timing is key now – whether they will do it now or whether they will wait. But there’s no doubt that she’s got some problems with her MPs who are looking to possibly removing her sooner rather than later.
Sputnik: Let’s talk about the worst-case scenario for Mrs. May. If she is pushed out, who would likely fill her position? Is it likely that the odds of somebody more competent or more capable to deliver what the majority really want will get into office if elections are held?
The problem is that if there is a compromise, many people will see that as some kind of sellout. And the name, of course, being mentioned, which some of the newspapers refer to, is possibly Boris Johnson being her replacement. Any replacement would be someone who comes from the pro-Brexit position, who wants to leave the EU, who wants a clean break.
Boris Johnson seems to fit that bill; he’s got some significant support within his own party and quite a wide popular appeal and he has spoken up publicly that he feels that Mrs. May is not delivering; he said at the weekend that she has “put a suicide vest on the country” and that it would explode. It was possibly an unfortunate metaphor, but some of the newspapers say that he is on the news possibly looking to replace her.
That could create a whole new range of problems that he could come in, talk about delivering Brexit and then a number of his MPs will actually pull their support away from him. It is such a divisive issue, it’s [held] to the Conservatives for generations in this country and it looks like it’s reaching a sort of a [peak] any time in a day or two, or next week or so.
Sputnik: Is there any chance that somebody other than Boris Johnson could actually fill Mrs. May’s post?
Dr. Ben Williams: There’re other names being mentioned, like Jacob Rees-Mogg who’s spoken out against Brexit; but he’s not as experienced as Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Johnson’s been in the Cabinet, he’s been mayor of London. Michael Gove and David Davis have held half-senior Cabinet positions and they are people who have argued for Brexit. There is a consensus that Boris Johnson is maneuvering for this; he has had long-term ambition to become prime minister. He recently resigned from the Cabinet over this issue.
I think that the Conservatives see him as a more populist figure among a wider public. There are some other names being mentioned, but the one that keeps recurring is actually Boris Johnson.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr. Ben Williams and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.