Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once famously opined that a week was a long time in politics. For today’s incumbent, Theresa May, the past 24 hours must have felt even longer.
Deal or no deal: How the past 24 hours have changed Brexit
When May traveled to Brussels on Monday, it was in the expectation that she would sign a historic agreement with European Union leaders that would enable Brexit talks to move on to a crucial new stage — the nature of a future relationship between Europe and the UK.
The timetable was tight: The remaining 27 EU nations are set to meet on December 14 and 15 to decide if « sufficient progress » has been made to move on to the second phase of negotiations. Even though Britain doesn’t leave the EU until 2019, businesses want clarity now so they can make crucial investment decisions.
So the choreography was set: a working lunch with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, followed by a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and capped off with a triumphant statement to the House of Commons in London on Tuesday.
It didn’t quite work out like that. May relies for support in the UK Parliament from a small but hardline party in Northern Ireland — the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). And when the DUP’s 10 members of Parliament got wind of the language in the May’s deal around the arcane but historically significant issue of the Irish border, they had something of a public meltdown. May was forced to abandon her plans and return to London.
May insisted later that there were merely a « couple of issues » that remained outstanding and that she was confident a deal could be done soon. But as the dust settled on Tuesday, it was clear from the previous day’s breakneck developments in London, Brussels and Dublin that the contours of a final Brexit deal had fundamentally changed.(cnn)