Brexit – the beast that ended Theresa May’s reign as prime minister

To quote poet T.S. Eliot “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.”

Brexit – the beast that ended Theresa May’s reign as prime minister

To quote poet T.S. Eliot “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” Apply that to Theresa May’s reign as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and you get something that is scarily accurate.

She’s not exactly won the hearts and minds of the British public and with pressure mounting on her from within her own party, it was time for her to stand down as leader of the Conservative Party, and with it, being prime minister.

This latest turn of events has made making a bet on politics on Betfair a lot more interesting. The triggering of a leadership contest in the Tory Party has made the prospect of a general election in the near future a lot more likely as well as muddying the waters as to the future of Brexit. But how did the beast that is Brexit contribute to ending Theresa May’s reign as prime minister?

The poisoned chalice

Some people will tell you that she was   always doomed to fail after taking on the role. Quite simply, Brexit is a complicated prospect that has very little chance of improving the lives of the majority as the United Kingdom has so many political and economic ties with the European Union.

Although seemingly doomed to fail, an issue lies in the fact that the majority did vote for Brexit, albeit they didn’t have a clear idea of what that entailed. That’s not because they were stupid, but more that there were so many varieties of Brexit being talked about that just voting to leave was an ambiguous vote.

On top of that, the vote was so close (48.1% remain and 51.9% leave) that the only realistic chance of keeping the Tories in power was to seek a compromise. This has proven easier said than done and her political career has been the price paid for failing to appease the majority.

Deadlock in parliament

Theresa May’s deal was put before parliament on three occasions, and each time it was defeated. The first defeat was historic, as it was the largest vote defeat for a sitting government in history. Only 202 voted in favour, while 432 MPs voted against her deal, leaving the prime minister rather red-faced.

Over the following few weeks, she was able to convince 40 MPs to vote in favour of her deal, but she still suffered a heavy loss – 391 to 242. The third and final attempt saw a much tighter vote, with the result being 344 to 286, resulting in a third consecutive loss. Unfortunately, her failure to get her deal through was a sign that her days as prime minister really were numbered.

However, one only need look at the indicative votes to understand just what May was up against when it came to delivering Brexit. As has previously been mentioned, there were so many versions of Brexit, not even the politicians could decide which version they believed the public wanted.

Parliament held eight votes on various aspects which ranged from a no-deal Brexit, to holding a second referendum, but none of them were able to get through the House of Commons. Ken Clarke’s customs union proposal was the closest to a majority in the second round of voting, losing 276 to 273. But a confirmatory vote gained the most support, securing 280 votes, losing by 12.

Unfortunately for Theresa May, Brexit is both the reason why she became prime minister and also the reason why she’ll no longer hold that position. If the UK hadn’t voted to leave the European Union, David Cameron wouldn’t have resigned, but the mess she was left to deal with has ultimately cut her political career short.

Date Of Update: 21 February 2022, 14:31

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