Three MPs quit May’s party
February 22, 2019 | Expert Insights
Three prominent lawmakers have abruptly resigned from Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party, saying the government has surrendered control to reckless, hard-line Brexiteers who are endangering the country’s future.
On June 23rd, 2016, Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union, stunning Europe and the world in general. The EU employs a set of policies for its 28-member states that aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods and trade among other services. Britain is deeply intertwined with the workings of the EU especially with regard to trade.
PM Theresa May’s leadership in the negotiations has been heavily criticised. She has been unable to form a consensus within the Parliament, or even her own party, for the course of Brexit. Her “directionless” leadership has not convinced most of her peers in Westminster and she was challenged by a no-confidence motion in early December 2018, which she narrowly won.
Despite her best efforts, the British parliament is not accepting the proposed Brexit agreement. Irrespective of whether they arrive on a deal or not, the UK is officially set to leave on March 29, 2019.
The Conservative members of Parliament who resigned will join a new “Independent Group” of lawmakers formed earlier this week by eight legislators who quit the opposition Labour Party.
The creation of a small but potentially powerful independent bloc of 11 — now composed of moderate rebels from both parties — suggests that seismic forces are at work in British politics. These forces have been unleashed by Brexit and the bitter divisions over how and whether to leave Europe behind. Pollsters now report that it is more likely for voters to self-identify as “leavers” or “remainers” than to don traditional party labels.
The three departing Conservatives, who heaped scorn on May for what they called her “disastrous handling of Brexit,” all favour remaining in the European Union. At a news conference after their defection, they said others were likely to join them.
While this new Independent Group by itself will not be able to head off Brexit, analysts said, it may play an outsize role in stopping a “no-deal Brexit,” under which Britain would crash out of the continental trading bloc without any transition period or trade deal.
The defectors left their parties for different reasons, but opposition to Brexit unites them.
The eight centrist members who abandoned Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party on Monday and Tuesday said the party has swung too far left. They complained about Corbyn’s handling of Brexit and his inability to stamp out anti-Semitism in the party.
The three Conservatives, or Tories, who broke away on Wednesday blamed their party's “failure” to stand up to zealous Brexiteers, specifically about 60 backbenchers known as the European Research Group, or ERG, who are pushing for a complete break from the European Union. ERG leaders, who have failed to topple May, say they would rather see a “no-deal Brexit” than preserve the relative compromise and closer ties, that May seeks on rules and regulations.
The Tory defectors also complained about the disproportionate power of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, or DUP, which is propping up May’s minority government after her disastrous showing in 2017 snap elections. The DUP — dominated by Protestant loyalists — rejects any compromise that would threaten Northern Ireland’s position in the United Kingdom.
The resignations came before May flew to Brussels for another round of talks on how Britain could leave the E.U. but preserve open borders in Ireland. May said she was “saddened” by her colleagues’ decision to leave the party. “These are people who have given dedicated service to our party over many years, and I thank them for it,” she said.
Our assessment is that three MPs resigning will not impact Theresa May’s majority in the Parliament but it does show a dramatic loss of confidence by her own party. We believe that as the Brexit date approaches, many MPs will make radical moves to prevent the loss of their own political standing within their constituencies.