If it’s her awkward dance moves in a Cape Town school that cause embarrassment as Theresa May kicks off her tour of Africa, it’s a welcome distraction from a more awkward dance to the tune of her party – bitterly divided on the consequences of a No Deal Brexit.
Shuffling from side to side ( as some suggested – “doing the Maybot” ) drew attention away from her awkward two-step with the reality of what is negotiable with the European Union and the extremists within her party now actually celebrating the possibility of leaving the EU with no deal negotiated to replace our complex trading relationship with Europe.
Theresa May earlier briefed journalists on her trip to drum up trade with the continent to the South of Europe that a no-deal Brexit “wouldn’t be the end of the world,” in a worrying development that many see as trying to prepare Britain for the possibility that she may not be able to negotiate a deal with the EU.
The Prime Minister was forced to admit this to try and pour water on Philip Hammond’s dire warnings of the “large fiscal consequences” of a No Deal Brexit. The Chancellor’s colleagues on the right of the Tory Party have reacted viciously, bellowing “Project Fear.”
Her Chancellor of the Exchequer warned of a massive fall in GDP and borrowing increasing by £80bn a year higher by 2033/34 in a No Deal Brexit scenario if Britain resorts to World Trade Organisation trading terms with the world.
May admitted that it “wouldn’t be a walk in the park” if she failed to secure a deal with the EU, but attempted to draw comfort from a comment made last week by Roberto Azevêdo, the director general of the World Trade Organisation.
“Look at what the director general of the World Trade Organisation has said. He has said about the no-deal situation that it will not be a walk in the park, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” insisted the Prime Minister.
“What the government is doing is putting in place the preparation such that if we are in that situation, we can make a success of it, just as we can make a success of a good deal.”
Asked by reporters whether she would order Conservative MPs to vote for no deal if she failed to negotiate one with the EU, Theresa May warned: “I’ve said right from the beginning that no deal is better than a bad deal.
“I think it’s absolutely right that the government is putting the preparations in place for no deal because we don’t know what the outcome of this is going to be.”
But May added: “what we’re doing is working for a good deal.”
Warnings that the decline in membership of the Conservative Party is being reversed by Ukip supporters joining to try to unseat candidates – including May – perceived as soft on Brexit is also making Theresa May shift about as uncomfortably as her position on Brexit.
Asked how constituency associations may react to Tory colleagues who call for a second referendum on the eventual terms on which the UK leaves the EU, the Conservative leader insisted:
“I believe that what matters to local associations is what the Conservative government is delivering for them, and what we’re delivering is what the people voted for.”
Last week a survey revealed that the majority of British voters now believe that Brexit will damage the NHS. A warning echoed by Britain’s biggest doctors’ union who said that Brexit could be “catastrophic” for the country’s health. The BMA called for a second Brexit referendum, warning that crashing out of the EU with no deal would cause chaos for cancer patients as well almost a million patients with rare diseases.