UK Prime Minister Theresa May Resigns: Who Will be Next?

UK Prime Minister Theresa May Resigns: Who Will be Next?

UK Prime Minister Theresa May Resigns

Who Will Be Next?

British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement on May 24, claiming to step down as the leader of the British Conservative Party on June 7, and resign as prime minister after the new leader takes office. May is the second female prime minister in British history and the third Conservative leader who resigned prematurely due to European issues after Mrs. Thatcher and David Cameron. The departure of May highlights the difficulties of the “Brexit” deal and the inability of political leaders.

The reasons for early resignation

In June 2016, after the British referendum decided to “Brexit” and Prime Minister Cameron resigned, Theresa May won the Conservative Party election. In the past three years, Prime Minister May was once very firm on the issue of “Brexit”, and declared the implementation plan after the results of the referendum. On March 29 2017, she officially submitted a letter to the EU to start the “Brexit” process. She has also clearly stated her “Brexit” proposition: “No agreement is better than bad agreement”, the UK will withdraw its immigration control and judicial sovereignty, withdraw from the customs union and the single market, and properly resolve the border problem between the North and South Ireland. After a series of tough negotiations, she completed an impossible task on forming the draft of the complicated “Brexit Agreement” with the EU, and successfully passed the crisis of mistrust within the Conservative Party and the Parliament. However, on the issue of “Brexit”, whether it is within the Conservative Party or within the UK, there are huge differences between “Bremain” and “Brexit”, “soft off” and “hard off”, which greatly slowed down the process of “Brexit” and affected May’s leadership.

The real difficulty of “Brexit” started in July 2018, in the late period of the Brexit negotiation. One of the Brexit hard-line figures, David Davis, resigned from the position of the Brexit secretary, making the tension within the Conservative Party break out into the open. May personally intervened to lead the Brexit negotiations, and in the summer of 2018 launched her own leading Brexit program, the “May Brexit.” However, this program has caused serious confrontation within the cabinet and inside parliamentarians. Typically, the European Research Council headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg strongly opposed May’s plan and challenged May’s power directly in November last year, trying to launch a vote of no confidence in the parliament.

There are two problems with May’s Brexit program. Firstly, the border issue between Northern Ireland and Ireland has not been resolved. After the Brexit, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland do not have borders, making Northern Ireland still a member in the EU single market and tariffs. In the league, Northern Ireland will remain as part of the EU. Secondly, the United Kingdom paid a huge fee (around 42 billion Euros) for Brexit, but it was still left within the EU tariff system and could not achieve tariff autonomy. This compromise has irritated the Hard-line Brexiters. In the parliament, May’s plan has been continually rejected three times. The UK has had to apply to the EU for a delay in Brexit, which further polarised the contradiction between the Brexit and the Bremain. This contradiction is also growing in British society. As a result of that, and the civil war within the Conservative party, May has eventually chosen to resign early .

New Prime Ministers

After Theresa May announced her resignation, the Conservative party faced a new round of party leadership competition. The new prime minister, who is expected to take office at the end of July, will take over the unfinished business of Cameron and Theresa May and lead the UK to leave the EU.

Based on the BBC, there are about 14 contenders, that are confirmed to compete to become the next prime minister. According to the latest media opinion polls on May 25, 2019, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is the most desirable prime minister in the Conservative Party, and about 39% of Conservative Party members believe that Boris Johnson is the first choice, while former “Brexit” Minister Dominique Rab is ranked second with 13% support. Moreover, BBC Gaming predicts that there is about 40% chance for Boris Johnson to win the election. As a leader of the Hard-line Brexiters, Mr. Johnson has been constantly criticizing Theresa May’s Brexit agreement. He resigned as the foreign minister on July 2018, because of the disagreement with Theresa May on Brexit. If he becomes prime minister, the possibility of confrontation with the EU on the issue of Brexit will increase. He claimed that regardless of whether an agreement was reached or not, he believed that the UK would leave the European Union on October 31. Although he does not want to leave the European Union without agreement, if the United Kingdom wants to get a better agreement, it nevertheless still has to be ready to leave the EU without agreement.

After Prime Minister May announced her resignation, a majority of European government spokespersons gave May high praise, while they also emphasised that the EU would not accept the renegotiation of the Brexit agreement and the indefinite delay of the Brexit process. Therefore, the new prime minister will also face the same difficulties that May has faced, and it remains to be seen whether the new prime minister will repeat the same mistakes, or find another way.

By Louis Cai

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