Thursday 24 May 2018

May can still avoid Brexit train wreck - but she will have to take a new line

The EU-27 won't call the UK's bluff despite its negotiating stance bordering on fantasy

BOXED IN: British PM Theresa May at an Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels last Friday
BOXED IN: British PM Theresa May at an Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels last Friday
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

'What the hell does your government think it's doing?" a former Conservative minister asked the Irish Times' London correspondent, Denis Staunton, last week. "Do they not know the pressure she'll come under to just walk away?"

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May has already capitulated to pressure from the ultra Brexiteers in her party and has chosen a costly and disruptive route to departure from the European Union. These post-referendum choices are the source of the difficulties over the Irish border and of the bewilderment in Europe about the UK government's negotiating objectives revealed in the leaked memo from the Irish foreign affairs department last week.

The British electorate chose to depart the EU but it is the British government that has chosen to implement this decision in a manner that has created the stand-off with Europe, concerns about Britain's longer-term economic prospects and conflict over the Irish border.

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