As star-crossed British Prime Minister Theresa May gets weaker and weaker, hardliners within her Tory party may finally try to pull the plug and replace her with one of their own with the aim of negotiating a sharper split from Europe.
It would be a risky move, given the Tories’ slim majority in parliament. If the “soft-Brexit” wing of the party doesn’t go along, it could unintentionally open the way for rival Labor party leader Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister.
“Hard-Brexit” Tories may still take the gamble, betting that at the end of the day, the party will stick together rather than clear a path for Labor. The Tory position will become clearer after a fresh round of cabinet deliberations on Brexit this week, after which point May’s days could well be numbered…
Why it matters for the UK: Any Tory replacement for May would ultimately seek out a harder line on Brexit, prolonging uncertainty in the UK — which could prompt a mass corporate exodus from London — and threaten to permanently split the Conservative party.
Why it matters for Europe: A rockier Brexit process isn’t good news for the continent either — the UK is scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019, with or without a negotiated deal, and a failure to agree to future economic relations before then would disrupt a commercial and financial relationship that is, still, critical for both sides.