LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister Theresa May headed into her latest Brexit battle yesterday weakened but still determined to get her legacy-defining deal through parliament, as MPs wrestle to take control of the process.
To her supporters, May is a model of resilience, but to her critics she is an inflexible leader oblivious to the changing circumstances around her.
She has suffered the ignominy of losing her parliamentary majority following a disastrous election campaign, seeing her flagship Brexit deal comprehensively rejected by MPs and enduring two no-confidence votes, one by her party, the other by Parliament.
Each time she has fought on, partly protected by the inability of any serious challengers to form alliances and depose her, with the toxic Brexit issue dissolving traditional political bonds.
May made it her mission to carry out the wishes of voters who backed the Brexit referendum in June 2016 when she became premier the following month.
But Leave backers have always been suspicious of having a Remain supporter – which May was before the referendum – leading negotiations.
And MPs who opposed Brexit want her to stick tighter to the EU or call for a second referendum.
Parliamentarians could weaken her further by voting yesterday through a measure that would open the door for them to dictate the way forward. One glimmer of hope for the leader is that the Brexiteers who voted down her deal have recently struck a softer tone towards the agreement, fearful that opponents of Brexit in the House of Commons could scupper the whole process.