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    The Union Jack (bottom) and the European Union flag are seen flying, at the border of Gibraltar with Spain, in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, June 27, 2016, after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU Brexit referendum

    'Mrs May Will be Wounded in No-Confidence Vote But She Might Easily Win' - Prof

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    UK Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that ousting her would only risk delaying Brexit, adding that she would meet European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels to specify Brexit conditions. This comes after several members of her cabinet have resigned in protest.

    Sputnik has discussed Theresa May's leadership with Mark Garnett, a politics professor at Lancaster University and author of the book "From Anger to Apathy: The British Experience".

    Sputnik: Theresa May called the draft agreement the right deal in national interests it would be interesting to see what's your take on that?

    Mark Garnett: It would be unusual for a politician to deny that they were acting in the national interest but this really is I guess a big card to play in the present situation.

    What she's really doing is appealing over the heads of parliamentarians within her own party and in another parties to the British public and she is able to get her message across, very interestingly, partly because there are at least now two national newspapers which are firmly committed to her support and this changes things from the time of the Brexit referendum when all of the Tory-supporting newspapers were very, very firmly on the side of Leave.

    Well since then two important UK newspapers — The Daily Mail — and to a smaller extent — The Daily Express — their editorial positions have changed and one is under new ownership and the other under a new editor and this means that she actually does have quite strong support in the press. I think this is quite an important advantage for her in what otherwise would look to be a very difficult position.

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    What she's also doing, of course, is implying that the people who oppose her within her own party are not pursuing the national interest and that really is a quite a strong challenge to present to these people. Really in effect, she's saying if you want to replace me I'm going to fight, so you better get your act together, and so far they really don't have their act together.

    So I would say strangely enough Mrs May is like a boxer not just on the ropes, she's really been knocked down once and she's got back to her feet again. She's been knocked about very seriously on many occasions but she's still there in the ring.

    And I think to some extent it's her opponents now who are more seemingly on the attack but really it is their position that's more difficult to defend now. It's up to them now to say why their deal is in the national interest.

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    Sputnik: Well it's fascinating this when you think about her Lancaster House statement and then Chequers document that was released it really has been watered down so much since the initial statement at Lancaster House. They've stopped mentioning whether it's a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit, this is a super light Brexit, by the sounds of things. What's your prognosis for the next seven days then, are you saying that she's got enough support and power to get this actual deal put through the House of Commons? Because if she does there's going to be a lot of anger in the country though, isn't there?

    Mark Garnett: Well there is, however, one has to always remember that this is an issue which is toxic within the Conservative party. It's up until recent times when British people were asked what are the key issues that they vote on in elections they choose the economy, the national health service, Europe is a long way down the list.

    So there are lots of people who voted in the election who took positions and took quite firm positions on the question of being inside or outside the European Union, but I would've thought that underneath that there's quite a lot of sentiment which is you'd say persuadable. In other words, Mrs May is saying we will in time be free for the European Union but we have to wait.

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    Then there might even be people on the Leave side who would be prepared to listen to that if it's put to them by somebody who carries some conviction, as somebody who really has tried her best for the country, I suppose really the message of what's happened from Mrs May's point of view, is she's saying to the public that this is the best deal that we can get and, again, underlying this is the idea that the Brexiteers, the people who were very enthusiastic about leaving were wrong because they were saying that it would be a very easy deal, that the EU would have to give in to the British negotiating position.

    What Mrs May's position implies is the British negotiating position was never all that strong and that she fought very strongly for the British interests but in the end, all that we have is a choice between no deal at all, Mrs May's deal or stay in the European Union. And I do think that the politicians hate all that kind of thing, but the British public if they do feel that Mrs May is sincere, and she's certainly won praise from people for being very tough, then they might start to think that this is a compromise that we're going to have to live with.

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    Sputnik: A lot of the comments from all sorts of commentators, not just the political commentators in the UK but globally is that Mrs May sold the country down the swanny, she's been treacherous and she's betrayed the country. Your language is more a conciliatory and you're saying that as the days, the hours go by more people, having looked into this are going to be a bit more restrained about it, but the key element is the Northern Ireland problem, the European Union have a veto over anything going forward that basically says that we have control over whether you're going to leave the European Union or not, and that's the key thrust of what people are so upset about…

    Mark Garnett: Well it is. Again, this is where in a way the deal has been so detailed and the backstop arrangement is one which you could say, if you were Mrs May, that it's very unlikely that it will ever have to be put into practice.

    Certainly, if there is some kind of chance of a deal on the lines that Mrs May's sketched out then this issue will not be a problem, but then the problem goes back, at the moment the Northern Ireland politicians are saying that the deal would mean that Northern Ireland was treated differently from the rest of the UK.

    In the end, any kind of Brexit deal that's foreseeable, unless they can get a technological breakthrough, there'll be a border between Ireland, the South of Ireland and Northern Ireland and that will raise the whole issue again.

    So, in the end, I think what any objective observer would conclude, is that when this vote was put to the British people insufficient attention was given to the question of Northern Ireland and it is a riddle which simply cannot at the moment be solved.

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    Sputnik: What's your prediction then? Do you believe that Theresa May will still be prime minister come March of next year when Brexit is supposed to be delivered, is that your prediction? If not, who is the other person to take up the reins, and will it happen next week?

    Mark Garnett: All sorts of things are possible. All we can say is that it seems that the boasts of the Brexiteers that there was a large number of MPs that have already submitted letters triggering a vote of no confidence in the leader, those assertions seem to have been disapproved. In other words, unless something very strange has happened they don't have the necessary 48 MPs to trigger a vote of no confidence.

    Now even if they do get that number, it seems to me that the chances are that Mrs May will certainly be wounded in the contest but she might easily win it and that means there can't be another challenge for a year.

    So I would say if I were forced at gunpoint to put money down I would actually say that Mrs May is definitely going to see in the New Year as prime minister and might even think, perhaps, the beginning of April might be a time to step aside. But in the meantime, there could easily be a general election. Everything is on the table, the improbable is becoming more and more likely.

    Views and opinions expressed in the article are those of Mark Garnett and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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