BRUSSELS – On one side of the English Channel, supporters see it as the greatest peace project the world has ever known.
British Prime Minister, 1965.
The European Union looks more like a political assassin, one with a particularly rapacious appetite for British prime ministers. out of the bloody one Theresa May acknowledged that she had attempted to get out of the bloc with her career intact had failed. Three of her predecessors have been closed down while trying to break the code of Europe.
Now May's successor wants to try to avoid the same fate. And analysts say that to do so, he or she may have little choice but to steer Britain towards what is once seen as a remote possibility and is increasingly viewed as a live prospect: a chaotic departure from the E.U.
"A no-deal Brexit has become significantly more likely," said Steven Fielding, a professor of politics at the University of Nottingham. Whoever follows May wants to be faced with an existential threat. They'll think, 'If I do not deliver Brexit, I'm finished.' "
If Britain does not jump into the post-E.U. world without a net, the impact would shake Britain's economy – with ripples, and perhaps waves, far beyond its shores. She has sought to avoid that outcome, pressing the country's fractious parliament to pass the compromise she struck with her continental peers. But that deal was down three times, and May resigned rather than face the indignity of a fourth defeat.
With E.U. Leaderboarding in the UK, the next in a series of deadlines since Britain's vote to exit nearly three years ago.
Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary and front-runner to succeed May, highlighted the possibility on Friday, telling an economics conference in Switzerland that "leave the E.U. on October 31st, deal or no deal. "
Of course, that could be a bluff. Johnson
It's possible, some analysts believe that Johnson – or whoever takes power in London – could be faced with the same painful Brexit education May has undergone.
But across Europe on Friday, May's resignation brought a recognition that a no-deal scenario may well be out there.
"There's some in London who think they can negotiate another deal," Rosa said Balfour, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund. "That's not going to happen. The Red Lines Will Not Change. "
May found that they were hard to come by stucco in the nether-region between EU membership and life on the outside.
David Cameron, John Major and Margaret Thatcher, all of whom found themselves unable to unite the country – and perhaps most critical, their party – behind a common position on Europe.
"The Conservative Party has been almost fatally divided on this issue since the 1980s," Fielding said. Successful party leaders have struggled to manage the divisions, and all of them have failed. The Conservative Party's problem has now become the British problem. "
Conservatives wants to choose a new leader – and a new prime minister – over the next two months.
Whoever wins the job wants to face the most daunting challenge yet holding the party together. At a drubbing in European Parliamentary elections at the hands of the Nigel Farage-led Brexit Party, which did not exist a few months ago, underlining just how close the Conservatives are to cracking up, Fielding said.
British lawmakers want to make any difficult decisions without them
European policymakers love to join the list of people Brexiteers now aiming to succeed at 10 Downing Street. They reserve particular disdain for Johnson, whom they remember from their days whipping up hostility towards the E.U. as a Brussels-based correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.
There are some European leaders – notably French President Emmanuel Macron – who is long to pull the ripcord at the end of October and cast Britain away so they can move on with their own plans.
But for now, the European diplomats expect that extension in October, following the same logic as an emergency meeting of E.U. leaders last month.
European leaders have offered no additional concessions to Britain, despite May's struggle to pass the divorce deal because they see the agreement less as a negotiation than the only answer to a math problem.
Adding Britain's red lines and what results is the current divorce deal, as unpopular as it is, policymakers in Brussels say. Northern Ireland and the rest of Great Britain.
That will not change with May's successor.
19659030] Even a no deal Brexit would not end the drama. The conversation the next day between London and Brussels would be the same. The border between Northern Ireland and Ireland to avoid sparking a new conflict. They have to agree on a way for British citizens to live and work in the E.U., and vice versa. And the E.U. wants to quietly bring Britain to live up to its financial commitments in the E.U.
"Citizens, peace on the island of Ireland and money," one senior European diplomat warned last month, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. Witte reported from Berlin.