Theresa May could find it impossible to avoid another general election by autumn 2018.
According to the Sunday Times, Conservative Members of Parliament are preparing for elections, given the political deadlock over the Customs Union. May faces a cabinet where the majority wants to confront Brussels and leave the Customs Union and a parliament where a cross-party majority would prefer a Norway-type relationship with the EU.
According to the Conservative opinion leader, several Conservative MPs are bracing for snap elections as they expect parliamentary confidence to collapse if the prime minister gives too much to either prominent Leave or Remain campaigners.
Rumors of possible snap elections saw the pound’s exchange rate decline on Monday.
Given the complexity of Brexit negotiation, the fear is that a possible change in the leadership of the Conservative Party would come too late to make a difference. May could seize the opportunity to ask for a popular mandate to lead the country outside the Customs Union, but that would require her to campaign against members of her cabinet and at least 12 of her Members of Parliament.
In such a scenario, the Conservatives would be campaigning divided, although it remains unclear what would be Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign platform and whether he would commit to the Customs Union and/or the Single Market. For the moment, all opinion polls published in May give the Conservatives a 1-to-5% lead of the Labour Party.