The infighting and chaos within the Tory party has compromised the UK’s negotiating position in the Brexit talks. John Bruton, former Irish prime minister, said that the British government was divided and incapable of offering a clear strategy on the future relationship of the UK with Brussels. 

Speaking to the Institute of Directors, Bruton said: “If it got into detail, the disagreement between cabinet members is so deep that the Conservative party would split and the government would fall. The Labour opposition has a similar problem. UK party and public opinion has been polarised and is unready for compromise. The Conservative party is consumed with its leadership struggle and cannot be relied upon to make a deal that will stick.”

In his speech, Bruton pointed out that the UK didn’t have enough time to develop and negotiate a successful plan and that it was necessary to extend the time, since a transition period would also be difficult to negotiate: “Negotiating and ratifying a transition deal could be almost as difficult as negotiating the final permanent deal,” he said.

 The only possible way for the UK to leave the EU with a deal was to leave room for up to six years and more for an agreement between the EU and the UK to be realised. Such an extension time might not be favourable, but for Bruton, it appears to be the only possible way to solve the impasse in the current negotiations.

He stated: “If it looks at all these complexities thoroughly, my sense is that it [the UK] may then conclude that, despite Boris Johnson’s anxiety to leave quickly, the time limits are already far too severe and that more time is needed … Of course this would be difficult. There are really no good options here. It is a question of deciding which option is the least bad one. The present tight timeframe minimises the opportunity for creative thought. Instead, it maximises the influence of blind bureaucratic and political forces. It increases the likelihood of miscalculation, and of the UK leaving the EU with no deal at all.”

Bruton argued that more negotiating time was necessary, otherwise the two parties would fail to reach an agreement. He stressed that the tempo of the negotiations needed to be “dramatically increased,” but the UK, the father of Brexit, wasn’t focusing enough on its priorities. His comments were made ahead of May’s statement in the House of Commons later today, in which she is going to say that “the ball is in … [the] court” of the 27-member states. Unfortunately, the European Commission’s chief spokesman said earlier today that “the ball is entirely in the UK’s court.” Who is going to play first, remains to be seen.