Last month, May signaled her intention to step down once Brexit takes place.
This position is too vague for the most rebellious of her own MPs. What’s more, May has already made clear she should not stay on as leader if Brexit slips beyond a June 30 timetable.
If EU leaders press for that longer delay, to the end of December or even March next year, the pressure on May to stand down will be immense.
First, she must get through this week’s summit. European Council president Donald Tusk, and a majority of EU leaders, are happy to give the UK its “flextension” — a flexible extension period which could be shortened if the Commons finally passes a deal.
A draft conclusion for EU leaders to back, circulated last night, states that the UK must act in a “constructive and responsible manner” during the delay period — in an attempt to prevent a more hardline future prime minister cutting up rough over Brexit.
But French President Macron is driving a harder bargain, insisting on tougher rules for the UK, including a review of its progress towards a Brexit deal every three months and relegating its membership status to “intermediate,” with few rights or influence.
May has a weak hand going into Wednesday’s summit — but every day longer the UK stays in the EU, the more unstable her position becomes back home.