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Theresa May, Britain’s Lady of Perpetual Crisis

Mr. Francois, in November, submitted a scathing letter to the party’s 1922 committee, which has the power to remove the party leader, saying Mrs. May “just doesn’t listen” and is “in complete denial.” Since then, he has missed no opportunity to criticize her deal, which he described as “rancid,” and complained that, instead of submitting the deal to a vote, members of her government had “gone and run away and hidden in the toilet.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Francois stood in her defense, acknowledging, to widespread laughter, that “she and I have not seen entirely eye to eye in the past.”

“But I am a Conservative first and last, and I know opportunism when I see it,” he said. “I can tell you, when the bells ring, the whole of the ERG will walk through the lobbies with her, to vote this nonsense down.”

The failed challenge to Mrs. May’s leadership came at just the right time, drawing attention away from the dismal failure of her Brexit bill, said Nikki da Costa, a former Downing Street staffer who now works as senior counsel for the Cicero Group, a consulting firm.

“Without a doubt, it is a wonderful distraction,” she said. “It moves the news story forward very, very quickly.”

It does not, however, resolve the matter at hand.

On the heels of her crushing defeat on Tuesday, Mrs. May vowed to forge a deal that could win passage, but declined to offer specifics.

There is speculation that she could seek a postponement of the March 29 deadline, and agree to keep a permanent customs union with the European bloc. She said on Wednesday that she would invite opposition party leaders to discuss a compromise, but Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposing Labour Party, asked her to first rule out leaving the European Union without any agreement.

Source: NYT > World

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