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Brexit, or Theresa May’s Headache

Pauline Schnapper
p. 21-34


Theresa May has been faced with the complexities of negotiating how to leave the EU with her European partners while presiding over a divided Cabinet, party and country as a whole with no majority in Parliament since the failed June 2017 General Election. This two-level game, always a challenge, is made even more difficult by the fact that the future of the UK outside the EU was never really debated during the 2016 referendum campaign and that no consensus exists on the outcome of the negotiations.

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Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en novembre 2018.


Theresa May’s Conversion to Hard Brexit
The impossible two-level game : March-June 2017
Reality starts to kick in – or not

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The aftermath of the referendum on leaving the European Union has understandably dominated the eighteen months of Theresa May’s leadership of the Conservative party and Prime Ministership. The complex consequences of leaving the EU had barely featured in the referendum campaign as the Leavers claimed it would be an easy and quick process while the Remainers focused on the negative economic consequences of Brexit. But the process and practicalities of actually leaving the organisation after 45 years as well as the type of relations between the UK and the EU in the future were never discussed. Theresa May faced a blank sheet with no precedent to refer to.

This first challenge was compounded by the fact that she had a small majority in Parliament, which she lost when she chose to call for a general election in June 2017, and that the country as a whole was deeply divided over the principle of Brexit and the type of Brexit to negotiate. She was under particularly strong press...

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Pauline Schnapper, « Brexit, or Theresa May’s Headache », Observatoire de la société britannique, 21 | -1, 21-34.

Référence électronique

Pauline Schnapper, « Brexit, or Theresa May’s Headache », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 21 | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2018, consulté le 24 septembre 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.2048

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Pauline Schnapper

Professeur de Civilisation britannique à l'Université de Paris III

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Observatoire de la société britannique

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