The disastrous last phase of PM’s term dates to the backstop

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Theresa May has now, in political desperation, turned entirely against her base.

The prime minister faces overwhelming opposition to her leadership among Conservative members, put at 80%+ by some estimates.

She approached opposition parties for help in getting a Brexit deal through Parliament having already alienated them by concentrating on holding the Tories together.

But if she was going to achieve the latter, then her general approach should have been more eurosceptic from the beginning, which is the dominant sentiment in the Conservatives, as well as a very widely held one among Labour voters.

Mrs May’s over-riding, and disastrous, strategic error was accepting that the Irish border needed to be sorted with open ended commitments just for the UK to leave the EU, and before a new trade arrangement was even negotiated. This led, in late 2017, to the backstop. We have lurched from crisis to crisis since, now including Andrea Leadsom’s resignation.

But so determined is Mrs May to facilitate the Irish insistence that there can be no change whatsoever in either the divergence or enforcement of the land border, that the prime minister has become increasingly determined in her efforts to push through her withdrawal agreement.

Mrs May will be gone within weeks but now she allowing a vote on a second referendum, which might well pass, even though it is something she said that she would never accept.

This then has become like the PM’s abandoned pledge on an internal UK border, which she said no prime minister would ever accept, but which she has come accept when it became apparent that the EU was backing Irish intransigence.

Meanwhile, on Northern Ireland Mrs May and her secretary of state Karen Bradley have shown weakness on issues including the legacy of the Troubles, such is the focus on Brexit.

It is more important than ever now that eurosceptic candidates win across the UK in today’s MEP elections and that unionists poll strongly today.