It’s been yet another tough old week for Theresa May. On Sunday night her Brexit Secretary, David Davis, announced his much anticipated resignation from government, throwing a spanner into the works of her already difficult Brexit negotiations. To make matters worse for the embarrassed PM, within 24 hours of Davis’ departure, her Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, announced he was also to move to the back-benches.
The consequence of these two monumental departures mean that Davis and Johnson no longer have the restraints of ‘Cabinet Collective Responsibility’ to adhere to – they can now effectively bad mouth the government position on Brexit, or any other matter, whenever they see fit. Whilst Davis will likely criticise policy-proposals of the May government, Johnson, whose ultimate goal is ‘power,’ would likely attack for the simple purpose of political point-scoring in the pursuit of his own personal political ambitions. If they use their voices effectively, Davis and Johnson could bring down the May premiership. After all, since 1979, three Conservative PMs have lost their jobs as a result of Europe, and this recent news now means we’re verging ever-closer towards a fourth.
Appeasing both sides of the bitterly divided 52% and 48% means no side is content with the deal
The resignations came as a result of last Friday’s ‘Chequers Deal,’ whereby the Prime Minister ordered her Cabinet ministers to meet up at her country residence in Buckinghamshire in order to agree upon a Brexit strategy. Whilst there was eventual agreement at the meeting, the consequence of May’s compromise – as she must do to appease both sides of the bitterly divided 52% and 48% – means no side is content with the deal.
Brexiteers argue that this is not the Brexit that the 52% voted for – backers like Jacob Rees-Mogg claim it is a betrayal of the 52% and say May is taking a ‘soft Brexit’ approach to the negotiating table. On the other hand, Remainers counter this by claiming that the public do not want this, they did not know what they were getting themselves into back in June 2016, and the Chequers Deal is too hard a Brexit for the 48%. Either way – May is in a tangle, her party are vehemently split, and neither side looks likely to budge – May’s room to manoeuvre within her own party has shrunk significantly since her disastrous election result in June 2017.
For anyone, particularly students, wishing to know what Brexit will mean for them, the answer at the moment is simply: no one knows
The loss of her majority means she is weaker and more vulnerable to the extreme elements of her party – if she wants a government that is able to legislate and negotiate, she has to listen to and take those hardline views into account – otherwise they could threaten to bring her, and her government, down. The problem with this is that if May shows she is willing to pander to these extremist elements, it could set a dangerous precedent from within the Conservative party. It may alienate and anger the majority of MPs who take up more moderate positions – and could even give rise to more extremist views being aired if they are seen to be rewarded.
Either way, she is stuck. Her party is divided, she is politically weak, and she could be ousted at any time. Whilst the political infighting goes on, the countdown to the UK’s departure for the EU keeps on ticking, to the ever-closer date of Friday 29th March 2019.
If free movement ends, it could make studying abroad slightly harder – but realistically, deals can be struck
For anyone, particularly students, wishing to know what Brexit will mean for them, the answer at the moment is simply: no one knows. If free movement ends, it could make studying abroad slightly harder – but realistically, deals can be struck up with universities who have a long-standing partnership already – Australia is not in the EU, yet Warwick University have got excellent links with Monash.
Whilst you may be reading this in the search for some answers and facts about what Brexit will mean for you as a student, no one, not me, not even Theresa May, can currently provide you with those answers. 2 years ago we could never have predicted Brexit. 1 year ago we could never have predicted a Conservative minority. A month from now, the EU might reject the Chequers Deal. And who knows, a year from now we might even see the premiership of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.