A year ago, British Parliament was called back to deal with the Brexit mess, an issue that has seen out-of-control volatility from the prime minister. But two other crises, one in Europe and the other in the United States, threaten to engulf the upper house of parliament, and officials are fear not even Brexit can separate them.
“Things are bad enough, but bye bye!” quipped a Tory MP, still recovering from last week’s vote on the Brexit deal, in remarks he later complained were personal.
On the same day as Parliament resumed business, President Trump posted a tweet from his New Jersey golf club, claiming U.S. intelligence indicated that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, suggesting that Russia could do so again in the 2018 midterms. A parliamentary paper called him out, pointing out that there was no specific evidence of direct Russian involvement in Britain’s vote and that he had repeatedly implied that Germany was influenced by Russia.
That same day, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed new tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from the European Union. The European Commission is threatening retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.
Ms. May has been playing catch-up with the EU’s response since the announcement, seeing off a vote in Parliament that required a vote in the European Union on the tariffs while maintaining commitments to free trade and good-faith negotiations. She announced last week that she was giving up on talks with the European Union, and said that she would go back to Brussels only if they had reached a deal with the agreement she had sought.
On Monday, she said she would meet Mr. Trump for a working dinner at Chequers.
“We have a shared interest in rolling back the state-centrism of the previous generation,” she said. “But we also share a deep interest in international trade and transatlantic friendship.”
Many in Parliament, however, are concerned that the negotiations are falling apart, and they are wary of leaving the EU without a deal. They include MPs from both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. While Ms. May is preparing to bring her plan to Brussels, the legislation will now go back to parliament for a vote.
On Wednesday, the House of Commons voted by 311 to 298 to reject all existing options for “amending or canceling the exit from the European Union.” It’s “a monumental defeat for the prime minister,” said a Labour MP, Stephen Kinnock.
Ms. May’s political survival, however, depends on Europe, and it’s unclear how much appetite she will receive in Brussels for another deal. There was speculation that she will stay on in Downing Street if a customs partnership deal — allowing the EU to collect tariffs on the British side of the border — is eventually struck.