Theresa May: How to herd cats

Theresa May

Theresa May has a task of Herculean proportions: to negotiate a Brexit deal that will gain approval from a divided British parliament and an obstinate EU. Securing a deal would make herding cats look easy.

But Mohamed El Erian argues in Bloomberg that the British prime minister is close to a deal with which everyone is “equally unhappy”. And it is “possible that May has managed to corner both her internal position and the EU, opening a wider window for the government to secure support for her deal in the coming weeks. To understand this, consider how the bargaining positions are changing not just because of the pending March 28 deadline but also, and more importantly, because of the European elections scheduled for May 23-26.

More than the March 28 deadline, the European elections could well constitute a binding practical constraint on both the UK and EU, thereby significantly raising the probability of forcing the clarity and sufficient unity and cooperation needed for a workable proposal…..

With many European officials likely to oppose UK participation in the elections, the prospects of a disorderly hard Brexit essentially imposing itself will prove very threatening to British politicians on both sides of the argument. In other words, a May-proposed deal that includes some further EU concessions will certainly still not be optimal for them but will be better than being widely blamed for the alternative. And Brussels would go ahead, also fearing the alternative.

Here’s how this likely, though not yet overwhelmingly probable scenario would proceed: The May government would get agreement from parliament on a short-term extension to the March 28 deadline. This would be accepted by Brussels and allow for negotiations on some further concessions. Parliament would consider the revised deal and, after lots of noise and jockeying, agree to it before the European elections in which the UK would not participate.”

With an extension beyond April out of the question, parliament faces a clear choice: accept Theresa May’s deal or face a no-deal, hard Brexit. Securing approval of a negotiated deal would be a massive win for May, Britain and the EU.

Hat tip to Greg McKenna.

May Looks Beyond Brexit | Bloomberg

Robert Hutton at Bloomberg discusses Theresa May’s speech, Wednesday, at the Conservative Party’s annual conference:

….May’s comments mark a change of emphasis from the views of her predecessor. In his 11 years as Tory leader, David Cameron argued that the party needed to show that it was in touch with modern Britain by focusing on climate change and gay rights. May, by contrast, argues that the party needs to reach “ordinary working-class people.”

She’ll say she sees the role of the government as providing “what individual people, communities and markets cannot.” And she’ll argue that this means “providing security from crime, but from ill health and unemployment too. Supporting free markets, but stepping in to repair them when they aren’t working as they should. Encouraging business and supporting free trade, but not accepting one set of rules for some and another for everyone else.”

….three senior figures in May’s administration said financial-services companies would get no special favors. The extracts of May’s speech suggest she thinks Cameron was too focused on that sector. “If we act to correct unfairness and injustice and put government at the service of ordinary working people,” she’ll say, “we can build that new united Britain in which everyone plays by the same rules, and in which the powerful and the privileged no longer ignore the interests of the people.”

Source: May Looks Beyond Brexit to Portray Herself as Workers’ Tribune – Bloomberg