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Economic Implications On Britain Of Brexit


Within a few hours, we should know if Theresa May is losing her job. The British prime minister faces a no-confidence vote within her Conservative Party today - this after many British lawmakers disparaged her plan for Brexit. Standing before members of Parliament today, May warned that Britain is close to a deadline for agreeing to a Brexit plan or leaving the European Union with no trade agreements at all.


PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY: The way to ensure there is no no-deal is to agree a deal. That's the way you ensure there's no deal.

INSKEEP: We'll see if she gets a chance to get that through. George Parker is here, political editor for the Financial Times. Welcome back to the program.


INSKEEP: Does Theresa May look likely to keep her job?

PARKER: I'd say at this stage yes. There's a certain look of confidence around the Theresa May team downstairs in the House of Commons. They've been having meetings with MPs all day today. The prime minister put in a pretty good performance at the prime minister's question time you were just hearing there and got quite a lot of support from the backbenches. And you're starting to sense that they think they've got the wind in their sails and they can see this out, but it's obviously still an extremely dangerous moment for the prime minister.

INSKEEP: So a vote of no confidence could turn into a vote of confidence then.

PARKER: It sounds like it possibly could do. You know, this is a moment when the euroskeptics in her party are basically sort of try to seize control of the government, but ultimately they're a relatively small faction. And I was speaking to one minister who said that they are behaving like student union kids. They're backwoodsmen. They don't represent the party or the country. So it's a moment of reckoning, I think, for people like Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary who'd been leading this uprising against the prime minister.

INSKEEP: But it's not clear that there is a single candidate to replace Theresa May, is there?

PARKER: I think that's the problem that they've got, that a lot of people are unhappy with Theresa May's handling of Brexit. A lot of people are extremely angry with the deal she's brought back from Brussels. But at the moment, nobody has put forward either a plausible candidate to replace Theresa May or a plausible alternative Brexit plan that could win the support of the House of Commons. So there's a bit of a view that, fine, you could remove Theresa May, but then what? What happens next? And I think that's the precipice that people are looking over and thinking, actually, if you remove Theresa May, you end up looking at chaos.

INSKEEP: Can you give us an idea of what it's just been like walking around, living in London the last few days? Are people intently following every second of this drama?

PARKER: I think they are. It's one of those political dramas that, you know, really grabs people, you know, especially today because it focuses on the future of one individual, the prime minister. The country, you know - there are some sections of the country which are heartily bored of this whole saga. It's been going on for over two years. People just want the government to get on with it. They can't understand why politicians haven't delivered Brexit yet. But at the same time, all the sort of surveys that we have, and other newspapers and news organizations have, show that people are still really interested in this and (unintelligible)...

INSKEEP: Are people worried that - are people worried that the stability of the country itself is at stake here?

PARKER: I think they are. Although I think people still think that's some way off and it's still sort of slightly academic. But clearly, they can see this cliff edge approaching on March 29 next year and the possibility we could leave without a deal and all sorts of problems that could arise in our trade relations with other countries.

INSKEEP: OK. Mr. Parker, thanks for the update, really appreciate it. George Parker is political editor of the Financial Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.