Sputnik spoke to Alastair Jones, an Associate Professor from De Monfort University about what Brexit will mean for the Conservative Party and Theresa May.
Sputnik: From left to right, politicians and the general public have united to condemn the prime minister’s Brexit deal. Is there any possibility that her deal will make it through parliament?
Alastair Jones: There is a chance that it can get through parliament but the chances are phenomenally low and it’s going to take a lot of persuasion. What Theresa May is trying to do is she is trying to sell the deal to remainers as being the best possible deal they can get, and if they don’t get it then its hard Brexit, cliff edge Brexit and all of the potential disasters that could happen.
To some of the moderate Brexitiers she is saying that this is the best possible deal that I can negotiate, if you don’t accept it the odds are we could remain in the EU. She is selling it double sided to try and persuade the moderates in each camp that her is the least worst option. At the same time, she is going around the country, as are many of her government ministers, selling this to the public in the hope that public opinion will help MPs to support this position.
Sputnik: If not this deal then what Brexit approach should Britain be taking before we leave the EU in March? We’re hearing the term no deal being passed about a lot in parliament; if May’s deal fails does mean a no-deal for Britain in March?
Alastair Jones: No it doesn’t mean a no-deal post-Brexit; what may be the situation will be that if parliament decides, parliament will send Theresa May back to the EU for further negotiations and they will give the steer on some of things that they want to be re-negotiated. There is a huge caveat to all of this and this will be the extent of the defeat.
Theresa May has said that she will carry on fighting even if she loses this vote but if the defeat is the hundreds, so the majority against her position is over a hundred MPs, then her position arguably becomes untenable and there may be a vote of no confidence in her government. We will then be in a very tricky situation of what the Brexitier MPs do.
Do they support Theresa May and her government as Prime Minister despite not support her deal? Or do they say throw it to the walls and lets have a general election? We don’t know what’s going to happen, we don’t know what negotiations will go forwards or anything like that, we don’t even know who will be in government if the vote next Tuesday is a huge debacle for Theresa May and she is absolutely hammered.
Alastair Jones: The topic of Europe not just the EU but Europe as a whole has always been one that has divided the Conservative Party with regards to how we intervened in the first World War and things like that. This is nothing new. What we are seeing here though, more than ever before, is the division in the Conservative Party being so hard.
There are people on both sides, adamant remainers and adamant brexitiers, that aren’t going to budge and this is pulling the Conservative Party apart. If you go back to 1997 under John Major the Conservatives suffered a huge electoral defeat and there was a civil war in the Conservative Party in effect and it took them three elections for them to look like a viable party again. We could have a similar situation, the only blessing they’ve got is that the Labour Party is nowhere nearly united under Jeremy Corbyn as it was under Tony Blair.
As for Theresa May’s legacy it is all going to hinge on this debate. If the vote goes through and she is successful and the odds of that are miniscule, the odds of her being remembered as a great prime minister will actually be raised. She will be the one that led the negotiations and took Britain out of the EU.
Theresa May has a very small chance of becoming a great name in history from a Brexit perspective but the odds of that is small. The reality is that she and David Cameron together will be remembered as people who took Britain into either a hard Brexit or failed to implement Brexit and all the backlash that goes with it.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Alastair Jones and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.