In a bombshell announcement that may yet again shift Brexit’s zig-zag trajectory, British Prime Minister Theresa May told Tory lawmakers that she would step down — but only if they approve her plan for the country to withdraw from the European Union.
“She made clear that providing the withdrawal agreement is passed she would start the process of an orderly handover,” said one Conservative lawmaker who was in the meeting in which May made her announcement.
May has been embattled for months, with members of her own party frustrated with her leadership as Britain careens toward a no-deal split with the E.U. on April 12. Her announcement came on the same day that Parliament seized control of the Brexit process and scheduled votes on a range of different options for leaving the Union.
May framed her proposal as a last-ditch attempt to salvage a chaotic process, effectively offering herself up as a sacrificial lamb to get the deal done. “I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty: to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit,” she reportedly told the lawmakers.
Should the gambit work and Parliament agree to May’s plan, the date of Brexit would be pushed back to May 22 and a more orderly exit would ensue. But the strategy holds risks, as well. It makes May a lame duck, and if Parliament still can’t agree on a plan, could plausibly spiral the process into an even more chaotic state.
Meanwhile, the E.U. is growing impatient. At a recent meeting of the European Council, the organization’s president said he is “expecting the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward.”