21:22 GMT10 May 2021
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    Three candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race have come out in opposition to a no deal Brexit. But does it matter what the Prime Ministerial candidate’s views on Brexit are, when a parliamentary consensus still needs to be achieved? Sputnik spoke with Sir John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde for more.

    Sputnik: Does it matter what any candidates for conservative party leadership claim when it comes to delivering Brexit? Would they be able to legally do anything about it to ensure that the country departs under WTO rules?

    Sir John Curtice: There certainly is no doubt that the next Prime Minister faces much the same issue with the parliamentary arithmetic as Theresa May did, so at the moment it is not obvious how you get the withdrawal treaty as it is currently constructed, through the House of Commons.

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    The EU are saying that they are not willing to renegotiate the withdrawal treaty, including any element of the backstop, and the House of Commons looks pretty determined that we should not leave without a deal, and if the next Prime Minister were to attempt to go down that path.

    Then the House of Commons would by one means or another won't, and it's ultimate weapon is to bring down the government and probably try to stop the government from doing so.

    Although the candidates may both raise issues of trying to put a time limit on the backstop, or might suggest that the UK should be willing to leave without a deal, it is not obvious whether the next Prime Minister will be in a position to deliver either of these two commitments.

    Sputnik: How can the Conservative Party recapture their popularity with the British electorate?

    Sir John Curtice: It's pretty clear that the principle, though not the only reason that they lost votes so heavily, is that they lost votes to the Brexit Party because of disappointment at the failure to deliver Brexit on the 29 March, and we know that maybe at least half or maybe more of those that voted leave, are actually in favour of leaving without a deal.

    And therefore they have relatively little patience for the difficulty that the government is having in delivering Brexit.

    Although it's pretty clear what the next Prime Minister needs to do. The difficult question is how he or she will actually manage to deliver it, given the constraints that they face in the House of Commons and vis-a-vis the EU.

    Sputnik: What will Theresa May's legacy as Prime Minister be?

    Sir John Curtice: Alas for Theresa May, I feel that her only legacy is going to be that she was the Prime Minister who tried to deliver Brexit, but in the end was ultimately unable to do so. How much of a criticism that proves to be, will of course depend on the ultimate fate of Brexit.

    If indeed by one means or another we don't end up leaving at all, then maybe history will be a little kinder to her, but if her successor does manage to deliver it and does manage to deliver it relatively quickly, then I think undoubtedly history will probably regard the last two or three years as an important time when the pathway towards Brexit was laid.

    But in the end rather like Moses, it required somebody else in order to take the UK to what the leavers at least regard, as the promised land.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker 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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    Brexit, House of Commons, WTO, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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