If Britain leaves the EU without a deal, the economic damage is likely to be severe.
Theresa May’s time in 10 Downing Street is nearly over, it would seem. After talks between the Prime Minister and senior Tory MPs, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, announced: “We have agreed that she and I will meet following the second reading of the bill to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist party.”
The bill in question is, of course, her three-times-rejected Brexit deal, which is due to be voted on for a fourth time by MPs in early June. But, even if May manages to persuade the Commons to back her, a leadership election would still be held, Brady stressed.
One minister told the BBC all that was left now was to make sure they were able to find “a dignified exit for her”. The contenders to replace May have been circling for weeks. And even before Brady’s announcement, one of the favourites, Boris Johnson, confirmed what everybody knew when asked if he would stand.
“Of course I’m going for it, I don’t think that is any particular secret to anybody,” he said, “But you know there is no vacancy at present.”
The European Union’s leading politicians may well despair at the looming prospect of the departure of the person they have been negotiating with for the past three years.
Last month, as the EU agreed to delay Brexit until 31 October to give the UK more time to decide what it wanted to do, European Council President Donald Tusk said: “Please don’t waste this time.”
In the event that May’s deal fails again, the next Prime Minister will face an incredibly difficult task if they decide to try to unite a majority of MPs behind any one course of action on Brexit, given our elected representatives appear incapable of doing anything but rejecting all the available options.
As we warned yesterday, there is a real risk that a hard-Brexit Prime Minister could simply avoid the need for such difficult work by allowing time to run out on the Brexit extension. It would be the hardest form of Brexit possible, one that risks economic damage on a par with the 2008 financial crash.
The hopes of Leave voters expecting to see an improvement in their lives could well be shattered; the hopes of Remainers – either that Brexit could be stopped or at least that a soft version could be negotiated – would definitely be. The hopes of those campaigning for Scottish independence will soar. When voting, Conservative party members may wish to bear that in mind.