Theresa May faces pressure on all sides over Brexit plans

Rachel Johnson speaks with Euronews' Vincent McAviney
Rachel Johnson speaks with Euronews' Vincent McAviney -
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British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans are hanging by a thread, as she faces criticism from the chief Brexit negotiator in Brussels as well as rebellion within her own party. The plan agreed upon by May and her ministers in July, called the Chequers plan, has proven to be somewhat of a poison pill to both Brussels and Britain.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said yesterday that he is "strongly opposed" to the plan as it's been laid out.

"Our own ecosystem has grown over decades," he said. "You can not play with it by picking pieces." Barnier warned that Britain would not be given any special economic relationship with the EU.

Back in Britain, 20 Conservative MPs formed a group to call for the abandonment of the Chequers plan. The anger is over a plan they characterize as no true clean break with Brussels. Former Brexit Secretary David Davis also went on television and criticised May, saying he would not vote for what she's proposed and that it would be worse than staying in.

In an exclusive interview with Euronews' Raw Politcs show, former Prime Minister Tony Blair weighed in on May's leadership.

"What [Theresa May] thinks - and by the way she is well intentioned in thinking this - she is trying to do her best for the country," said Blair. "What she thinks is, look we have to do Brexit, okay it's not a good idea but we have to do it. And therefore I am going to do the mildest version of Brexit we can, in order to say to the people who voted Brexit we have done it and protect the economy. It's totally sensible at one level. The trouble is in doing that she is neither going to satisfy the people who really want Brexit nor the people who think the whole thing is a bad idea. So it looks like a clever compromise, but actually it's a compromise that is the worst of both worlds and will satisfy nobody; which is why by the way I don't think it will pass the House of Commons. I think Parliament will vote that down in the end."

Columnist and sister of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Rachel Johnson, spoke to May's position in an interview with Euronews' Vincent McAviney this morning.

"I think she's in an almost impossible situation," said Johnson. "I mean a rock and a hard place hardly covers it. As it were, the Opposition have already said to accept Chequers would be the end of the EU project. She's got notables such as Nick Boles, who actually voted Remain, saying that he could come up with something far better than the deal on the table which is currently Chequers. Which has proved anathema to the grassroots, because it involved being a rule taker, as well as having freedom of movement for agri-foods and for goods. So you know, she really seems to have found very, very little support for the plan that has taken two years for her to come up with."

The Chequers deal set a deadline of March 29, 2019 for Brexit. With so many sides unhappy, it's either the art of compromise or the beginning of the political end for Theresa May- a snap election could be called before then. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair told Raw Politics host Tesa Arcilla that it seems May is leading the country through Brexit with little faith that she's doing the right thing.

"I completely sympathise with her," he said. "The trouble is leaders have got to lead. If she thinks it's a bad idea, and I think she has been asked so many times now: does she think Brexit is going to be good for the country? You'd think if she thought it was she would say it. She doesn't think it's a good idea. And there's something truly remarkable about a situation, especially for a country as mature and sort of serious as Britain to have its leadership, its political class, take the country down a path that collectively they think is a bad idea. It's a very odd thing. I mean, I have never seen a parallel like it. I can't imagine being Prime Minister and saying to the country, 'right, I am going to do this thing even though I think it's a bad idea, I am going to do it.'"