Theresa May resigned as Conservative Party leader on Friday, marking an end to a tumultuous three years at the head of U.K. politics. She will remain in her prime ministerial post only until a replacement is elected and the failure to deliver Brexit is already being scripted as her legacy.
Members of Parliament (MPs) voted down her proposed “withdrawal agreement” for a third time at the end of March, but May’s departure may not necessarily mean that her blueprint for pulling the U.K. out of Europe will be completely discarded.
The withdrawal agreement — a 585-page document that outlines how the U.K. will leave the EU in March — is causing division among society and lawmakers.
“The withdrawal agreement is not Theresa’s personal property, it stays in place” said Brexit Programme Director at the Institute for Government, Jill Rutter in a phone call to CNBC Wednesday.
“The EU didn’t regard itself as negotiating with the transient British Prime Minister, it regarded itself as negotiating with the U.K. government,” added Rutter.
Since agreeing a draft withdrawal plan with May, European Union leaders have consistently claimed that talks will not be reopened.
Just last week, Jean-Claude Juncker revealed that he was “crystal clear” with Mrs May that “there will be no renegotiation.”
Whether the EU can maintain this hard-line stance remains to be seen but regardless of who becomes the next U.K. leader, it seems certain they will be tackling the future relationship with Europe under the guise of the withdrawal agreement already drawn up under Mrs May.
“The withdrawal agreement is there, it’s not a Theresa May withdrawal agreement. The UK government has agreed this, and the PM got her cabinet to support it. So, the first issue a new prime minister has to make clear is what are they going to do with the withdrawal agreement that is there,” said Rutter.
As they rally support for their campaigns, Conservative prime minster candidates have been circling around three options: Ignore the withdrawal agreement, renegotiate it, or ask parliament again to ratify it unchanged.
Hardliners who say they don’t fear leaving without any sort of deal such as Esther McVey have advocated essentially ditching the agreement entirely, arguing the best course of action is to “actively embrace leaving without a withdrawal agreement”.
Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and others have all expressed that they seek specific changes to withdrawal agreement (the Irish backstop in particular), and potential ‘no-deal’ if renegotiations fail.
The backstop plan is a legally-binding insurance policy to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland whatever the outcome of future trade talks.
Current Health Secretary Matt Hancock and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart have essentially accepted the withdrawal agreement as negotiated by Theresa May, urging instead for focus to be placed on the legally non-binding ‘political declaration.’
The ‘political declaration’ moves beyond the divorce deal and attempts to outline future issues such as ongoing U.K.-EU trade and security.
Currently, a ‘no-deal’ exit is the legal default if no arrangement is made by October 31st.
Yola / Jalingo – Scores of persons were reportedly killed in Gurin, a border town in Fufore Local Government Area of Adamawa State, during a clash between soldiers and youths on Thursday.
It happened when soldiers from 23 Brigade were drafted to the town to quell a protest by youths against the ban on motorcycles.
The youths were also protesting rampant kidnappings and excessive use of force on inhabitants of Gurin by soldiers and the police.
Sources in the town said soldiers and police used live ammunition on defenceless villagers who took part in the protest.
“Tension has been building in the area for a long time as we became fed up with the insecurity and uncalled harassment by security operatives,” Musa Mallum, a resident said.
“As I am talking to you now, there is serious demonstration going on in Gurin now due to the rampant kidnapping and excessive use of force on us by soldiers and police.”
Motorcycle transport is popular in the town for ferrying people and goods, especially foodstuffs from farms.
The ban on motorcycles was part of security measures which had been stepped up in the town, being a border post vulnerable to insurgencies and other criminal activities.
According to eyewitnesses, soldiers were sent to the town in trucks when the youths started burning tyres and chanting war songs against the police and other security forces for arresting and detaining inhabitants of the town who flouted the ban on motorcycles.
The Adamawa State government, through the permanent secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Polycap Ayuba, in a statement, said the ban on the use of motorcycles was not meant to trample upon the rights of law-abiding citizens but to halt the activities of kidnappers and insurgents who use the two-wheel machine to rob and attack people.
Polycap Ayuba also appealed to the people to exercise restraints since the ban was still in force and it would be lifted at the right time.
He confirmed that soldiers were drafted by the government to put a stop to the massive demonstrations of the people of Gurin town.
Also speaking, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Jerengol, said he was aware of the problems of Gurin town and all efforts were being made to bring the situation under control.
Tiv/Jukun Crisis: Militiamen Kill 12 In Wukari
In a similar development, about 12 persons were feared killed by suspected militiamen at a roadblock at Byepi village, along Wukari-Jalingo road in Wukari, Taraba State.
Sources said 11 persons were reported to have been forced out of a vehicle conveying passengers from Zaki Biam to Jalingo by suspected militiamen. It was learnt that the 11 were taken to an unknown destination where they were hacked to death, including the driver.
According to a victim, who escaped, he was beaten, cut with machete and asked by the militias to go back to Zaki Biam and report what happened to his co-travellers.
The police spokesman in Taraba State, David Misal (DSP), however, confirmed to Daily Independent that only three persons were killed by unknown gunmen about 6p.m on Wednesday at Byepi village along Wukari-Jalingo Road.
A police officer, who was among the men on duty in the Wukari, confirmed that the ill-fated vehicle, which conveyed those passengers was still at Byepi village.
The governor of Nigeria’s Kano state has cancelled an annual city parade by the powerful traditional emir, officials said Thursday, a sign of the frosty relationship between the two leaders.
Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje scrapped the horseback procession by the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, after a security meeting held late on Wednesday.
The procession in the northern town of Kano, a symbolic march celebrating the power of the monarch, held to mark the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, had been due to take place on Thursday.
The traditional march usually sees the emir pay tribute to the governor while on horseback.
It also includes a tour of the city with residents lining the streets, beating drums, playing drums and firing muskets.
But the governor’s spokesman, Abba Anwar, said the royal carnival was cancelled due to “security reasons.”
He said there had been warnings of a possible “breach of peace” during the event.
Sanusi is one of the most important rulers in the mainly-Muslim north, and one of Nigeria’s leading Islamic figures.
But last month, Ganduje carved up Sanusi’s powers by dividing the ancient Kano emirate into five, a move critics say was a bid to curb his influence.
Supporters of Sanusi say the cancellation of the parade was another move to cut his power.
Sanusi, a former central bank governor, became emir in 2014, inheriting an ancient title over an area the size of Israel with the population of Portugal.
He will comply with the government’s decision, his office said.
Instead, he would hold special prayers to commemorate the anniversary of his coronation.
Ganduje, who won re-election for another four years in March, is said to view Sanusi as a critic opposed to his victory.
The state anti-graft agency has recommended Sanusi’s suspension from office over an alleged misappropriation of 3.4 billion naira ($9.5 million, 8.4 million euros) of palace funds given by the state government.
The emir’s aides are also under investigation for alleged graft.
Sanusi and his aides deny the accusations.