Don’t Expect Theresa May to Put Country Over Party

For the past two years, the debate over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union has focused on the costs and benefits of trade, the effects of immigration, and the frustration of communities left behind. Yet when the full story of Britain’s departure from the EU is told, it will be in large part the tale of a passionate relationship between one woman and her political party.

For more than two years, British Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to balance the needs of her country, as she negotiates its exit from the European Union, with that of her party, wherein a fiercely Eurosceptic wing has limited her ability to compromise. Now, with Brexit fast approaching at the end of the month, and May’s attempts at an amicable divorce lacking parliamentary support, the prime minister can choose to delay the withdrawal, currently set for March 29, or lead Britain out of the EU with no deal, which detractors say could leave the country without food, without medicine, without international travel.

So the question is this: Will May drive her country off the precipice and abandon the EU without a cushion, or risk splitting the political party that—perhaps more than any prime minister since Edward Heath, the man who took Britain into what is now the EU in the first place, nearly a half century ago—she has made the center of her life?