Some fireworks from across the pond today, and they aren't left over from their July 4th stash like the ones going off in our neighborhood this weekend. The UK and EU are on the home stretch of figuring out their divorce settlement for "Brexit", and the current plan on the table has the UK piggy-backing on a lot of EU trade rules as a default.
Being stuck with a lot of overbearing EU rules written by Eurocrats in Brussels is one of the pet peeves of Leavers, so this package isn't going over well. The Brexit secretary resigned over the weekend and the foreign secretary, former London mayor Boris Johnson, handed in his resignation today. Johnson is the informal captain of Team Leave and a favorite in the small-c conservative wing of the Tories.
The current Conservative government of Theresa May has a small working majority, needing the Northern Irish conservative DUP to patch together a majority. It wouldn't take too many rebel Leavers voting against this package to make her need votes from the opposition to pass the Brexit passage.
The opposition is generally for staying in the EU, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is rather skeptical of the EU while Labour as a whole was in the Remain camp in the referendum vote. That being said, it would seem that a large part of the bounce Labour got in the last election was due to winning back a large chunk of the UK Independence Party vote after UKIP's core concept was agreed to in the referendum.
UKIP seems to have had a lot of former Labor voters who were seeing immigrants from the poorer parts of the EU competing with them for jobs, along with Conservative-leaning voters who liked their message. There might be quite a few Labour MPs who might opt to take that tack rather than preferring the EU status quo.
Thus, Prime Minister May might consider a bipartisan package on Brexit, making a deal with Leave-leaning Labourites to make up for the uber-Leavers in the Tory caucus. However, parliamentary government rarely works that way, as party discipline usually carries the day and the threat of "three-line whips" (vote the party line or die) keeps defections to a minimum.
A counter to that is the fact that May can't afford many MPs walking out of the Conservative Party over the issue. They could win the vote with opposition support, but she'd quickly face a vote of no confidence if the Leave Party MPs wanted a new election.
May may also face a leadership challenge. PMs aren't assured a full term; Conservatives have replaced two sitting PMs mid-term in the last quarter century, including May's predecessor, David Cameron. She may well be a third. If the uber-Leavers are in a feisty mood, they could force a vote on her leadership.
Very interesting politics. To throw fuel on to the political fire, one of the EU's presidents, Donald Tusk, declared good bye and good riddance to the uber-Leavers.
“You know politicians come and go,” Tusk said on Twitter. “But the problems they have created for their people remain and the mess caused by Brexit is the biggest problem in the history of EU-U.K. relations, and it is still very far from being solved with or without Mr. Davis. And unfortunately the idea of Brexit hasn’t left together with Mr. Davis. ”
I guess Tusk didn't get the memo on letting your enemy alone when he's in the process of shooting himself in the foot. Or as a proper British lady might say, "Tusk, tusk."