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The Brexit mess in the UK just got messier

A day after she announced that she had her cabinet’s backing for a draft agreement negotiated with the European Union for Brexit in March next year, Ms May was struggling to save the controversial deal

Updated: Nov 19, 2018 12:26:45

Hindustan Times

A still image from video footage shows Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaking about Brexit, in the House of Commons, in central London, November 15 (REUTERS)

Prime Minister Theresa May is caught in the unenviable position of presiding over the meltdown of her government over Britain’s impending divorce from the European Union. A day after she announced that she had her cabinet’s backing for a draft agreement negotiated with the European Union for Brexit in March next year, Ms May was struggling to save the controversial deal and her job following the resignation of four ministers and demands for the premier’s ouster from a growing number of lawmakers of her Conservative Party. Those who favour Britain’s exit from the 28-member European bloc have long argued that the move would help reassert the country’s sovereignty and ability to make laws, as well as stem the inflow of migrants and protect jobs for Britons. Those in the Remain camp have pointed out that Britain, after its exit from the European Union, will still have to implement the grouping’s rules if it desires to access the European common market. The dreams of the Brexiteers of countries around the world lining up to forge new free trade agreements, too, are unlikely to be realised any time soon. Moreover, Britain can retain a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a crucial outcome of the Good Friday Agreement, only by remaining in some form of customs union.

The Brexiteers, to put it mildly, are caught between a rock and a hard place, and the situation is all of their making. Ms May has struggled with the bad hand she was dealt, highlighting the fears of a no-deal Brexit and contending that the draft agreement she hammered out represents the best possible deal. As the people of Britain grapple with the harsh realities brought on by the Brexit referendum of 2016 — in which a simple majority of 51.9% voted to leave the European Union — there have been growing calls for a fresh referendum. Of course, matters will get far messier if Ms May is unable to survive a vote of confidence in Parliament.

Whatever the outcome, Brexit will certainly impact the 800-odd Indian companies that have set up shop in Britain and now employ some 110,000 people. They flocked to Britain for the ease in accessing the European market and some have already started making noises about moving out if Brexit hits their operations. It is unlikely that Britain will remain as attractive an investment destination it has been so far for these firms if Britain’s exit from the European Union leads to more chaos and uncertainty.

First Published: Nov 19, 2018 12:26:29

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