British Prime Minister Teresa May and her fellow Conservative Party member of Parliament Boris Johnson are publicly debating not only the future of Brexit, but, implicitly, who should lead the country.
While May and Johnson battled each other to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron, who had resigned after the Brexit vote, the fight picked up steam after May delivered her “Chequers Plan” to take the British out of the European Union. May argues that the Chequers Plan is the best one for all of the country, including Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom). Johnson argues that May’s plan is akin to a “soft” Brexit, while he wants a “hard” Brexit. Johnson resigned in July as foreign secretary after May announced her Chequers Plan.
Johnson, born in New York City, is a favorite of American Republicans. A big-city Conservative, he previously served as mayor of London, favors cutting immigration, has an unconventional hairdo, and is known for making provocative comments, causing the inevitable comparison with United States President Donald Trump. After defeating long-time Liberal London Mayor Ken Livingstone, commentators on both sides of the Atlantic predicted that Johnson would one day become prime minister.
May became prime minister as a compromise candidate who gained the support of Conservatives on both sides of the Brexit debate. She has put herself in a difficult position, as a “hard” Brexit is politically unpopular with the general public, but a “soft” Brexit is unpopular within her own party.
May believes in the “soft” Brexit plan because she favors keeping the British economy integrated with the EU’s economy. This means that British businesses, including farmers, will have to abide by strict EU regulations that have been ordered by European bureaucrats.
The issue of bureaucratic control is the biggest sticking point between May’s plan and Johnson’s plan. Both plans would cause the UK to stop paying money to the EU every year, and the UK would no longer be required to accept immigrants or be legally prevented from deporting them.