Just when you thought that Theresa May had fouled things up so much that she had reached rock bottom, she managed to sink even lower. Yesterday she gave a televised address to the nation where she said that she was not at fault for the current mess and put it all on the members of parliament. (You can see her four-minute speech here, though for some reason the video starts with 44 minutes of showing just the podium.) It is true that parliament has voted down her proposed deal twice but it was hardly a profile in courage to pass the buck like this. MPs were understandably furious, saying that they were already worried about their safety because of threats against them and for May to throw them under the bus was unconscionable.
Meanwhile her talks with European leaders are not going that well either, with them proposing that the extension she seeks to June 30 be shortened to May 22 or even May 7. According to one report:
She addressed her fellow leaders earlier, in a 90-minute question and answer session that by all accounts did not go well, as she flatly refused to say what she plans to do if her deal is rejected for a third time.
Another report said:
According to a source, the prime minister “dismally” failed to offer any answers as to what she would do if the deal was blocked by MPs again
One aide is quoted as saying:
“She didn’t even give clarity if she is organising a vote. Asked three times what she would do if she lost the vote, she couldn’t say. It was awful. Dreadful. Evasive even by her standards.”
When [European] leaders asked May what she was going to do if her deal was voted down, an official added that the prime minister replied that she was following her ‘Plan A’ of getting it through.
It was then the EU decided that “she didn’t have a plan so they needed to come up with one for her”, the source added.
And the plan they came up with is to set a deadline of May 22 if parliament passes her plan and a deadline of April 12 if they reject it again.
May has also ruled out revoking Article 50 that started the clock on leaving the EU that created the current March 29 deadline. Doing so would mean that UK remains in the EU until Article 50 is invoked again and the two-year clock restarted, presumably with a much better thought out plan in place. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been less than clear about where he and his party stands, says that he is open to doing so.
At this point, I have really no idea what May’s end game is. It is becoming clear that even those closest to her are not sure either. She may believe that the very threat of a no-deal Brexit would be so horrifying that parliament would hold its nose and vote for her deal in the coming week. If so, that is a massive throw of the dice. And if that fails, her Plan B may just consist of holding on to her office by avoiding blame and yesterday’s attack on the MPs may be the initial salvo in that next battle.