The report today that the Conservatives are planning to delay implementing article 50 until late 2017 is nothing more than strategy. The claim is that the Conservatives do not yet have the resources nor the personel to safely steer the country into a full Brexit.
Implementing article 50 would trigger a 2 year leaving process from the European Union. It was thought that the Conservatives would trigger article 50 at the end of this year, now though the new time-table would push Brexit to the end of 2019, just months before the next general election.
It would be a wonderful strategic move for the Conservatives as they would almost certainly use the Brexit process as their main reason to be voted back into power for ‘stability’ reasons. It would make sense for them to beat on that electoral door. If they completed Brexit a year earlier and things went wrong then the public may not be so forgiving so what better way to catch the electorate on the hop than be caught between a ‘too early to tell’ moment and ‘too late to vote against us now’ perspective regarding the Brexit question. Theresa May can’t really wait any longer and thus push Brexit to 2020 as that will be too obvious a strategic move and in any case if they are seen to be stalling on Brexit they may not be trusted to deliver on their promise beyond 2020.
One more factor will be at play over the coming months and perhaps year or so. The Labour Party.
If Labour remains in disarray with the PLP continuing to commit political suicide by denouncing Corbyn or splitting the party then that may influence when a general election is held. We may even see an election as early as 2018 if the Unrest continues.
Theresa May will have to gamble between the best scenario or what’s less worse.. giving Brexit longer to settle into British society or take advantage of a Labour Party in turmoil.
Should Corbyn win and the PLP decide to get on board with the programme however and that element won’t even come into play. Labour will be seen as a stable (far more than before) entity and a threat to the Conservatives. At which point 2019 will be the likely moment for a new general election but don’t be fooled, this has nothing to do with ability to get the job done.