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British Prime Minister May Will Prevail In Brexit Deal, Ambassador Says


British Prime Minister Theresa May is in danger of losing her job, it seems. Two Cabinet members quit yesterday, and others are pressing for a vote of no confidence because they do not like the Brexit deal that she says would protect British jobs.


PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY: I believe that this is a deal which does deliver that which is in the national interest. And am I going to see this through? Yes.

INSKEEP: Kim Darroch is the British ambassador to the United States, and he's on the line. Ambassador, welcome back to the program.

KIM DARROCH: Morning. Thank you for having me.

INSKEEP: Do you assume the prime minister will prevail in this contest within her own party?

DARROCH: I absolutely do. As she says, she has done the best possible deal on Brexit, one that delivers the objectives the British people set when they voted for this back in June 2016. I'm confident she will take it through.

INSKEEP: So what does that say about the ministers who are resigning or signing letters calling for a vote of no confidence? Are they just not being realistic about what is achievable?

DARROCH: They can speak for themselves. And in the British system, if you disagree with any aspect of government policy, then resigning is the appropriate and the right thing to do. But I just point to a couple of very senior ministers who are strong supporters of Brexit, Liam Fox and Michael Gove, who've been out on the airwaves this morning very strongly supporting the deal that the prime minister's done. As I say, it was a complex negotiation. It's never been done before. She's delivered an outcome that meets all the objectives. I'm confident she will now take it through and deliver a positive vote in Parliament in a few weeks' time.

INSKEEP: Let me zero in on Michael Gove because he is a figure who has something of a profile here, who's somewhat known here. He has been a leading Brexiteer, as they're called, right?

DARROCH: He has, yes. Yes, longtime and very committed Brexiteer.

INSKEEP: But is saying that this deal is close enough, good enough for him.

DARROCH: Yeah. And he is a minister I know well. He's been out here. He's a very honorable man. And he's said this morning that he supports it. He's interested in negotiating the uncompleted business, which is the text about the future relationship. And he'll have some objectives for that. But he is supporting the withdrawal agreement the prime minister's negotiated.

INSKEEP: Well, let's be frank about what this agreement is because we get down to the reality here. The reality is that, in the face of a demand to leave the European Union, Britain is now getting ready to sign onto a deal that, for all practical purposes, leaves you in the European Union for some undetermined time to come while you try to figure out what you want to do in the future. Is that a fair summary?

DARROCH: It's not a - I mean, it's a summary. It's not completely fair. We will have the ability to negotiate and actually to sign everything short of implementing free trade deals with the rest of the world during this implementation period which runs to December 2020. But that deal gives the international business community certainty about the future. It gives us time to do the detailed negotiations on the future relationship with the European Union. And it maintains no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland while we negotiate all the details of that free trade deal.

So it's a sensible, pragmatic compromise, but it's a temporary arrangement. And come December 2020, we will be out with that free trade deal with the EU but able to make deals with the rest of the world, as well.

INSKEEP: Ambassador, in the few seconds we have left, what do you say to Americans who watch this governmental chaos that's rolled on for a couple of years now in Britain and start to worry about the governmental stability of one of America's closest allies?

DARROCH: Theresa May has been prime minister since the British people voted for leaving the European Union. She's taken this through. I think she's done an outstanding job. Extremely difficult negotiation - first time it's ever been tried and achieved. I think she herself is a guarantee of stability and continuity. I think our parliamentary system has stood up well to the stresses and strains of this process. I feel that we're coming into the final stages in good shape.

INSKEEP: Ambassador Kim Darroch, thanks so much.

DARROCH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.