Who are the ten people that can save or destroy Brexit?

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If you don’t know what Brexit is – or at least recognise the word – then there isn’t much we can do to help you. Fundamentally, we voted to leave the European Union on June 23 2016 but it seems that leaving this particular political construction is not that easy.

Who would have thought our politicians would have overcomplicated the process. Is it the concept of Brexit that isn’t working; or those handling the process?

The next step is to leave and we only have until March 29 to either fall out with no deal, strike a deal or – heaven forbid – have another referendum (be wary of unelected Liberal Democrats who seem to want this!).

Here, Business Leader profiles the ten people who can either save or destroy Brexit.

Theresa May

Who would want to be Theresa May? First, her Brexit deal was rejected, and then she was subjected to a humiliating vote of confidence motion shortly after.

However, the resilient May is still leading the UK in negotiations in Brussels and is determined to strike a deal. Her concessions in the Commons regarding the Northern Irish border means that May can now try and renegotiate the UK’s departure.

It’s a careful balancing act though as her party is split between those on the right who want a cleaner, purer version of Brexit and the ‘centrists’ who didn’t want to leave in the first place.

Most likely to: save Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn 

Comrade Corbyn has used the failing negotiations as a platform to call for a General Election. He went missing during the run-up to the referendum vote and never really made clear whether he was a leaver or remainer.

Like the Tories, his party is split between his inner sanctum who would like an election and the ‘moderates’ in the party who are pushing for a referendum.

Most likely to: destroy Brexit 

Stephen Barclay 

The Department for Exiting the European Union was set up to help smooth the process of Brexit – and it hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Barclay is the third Secretary of State in its two-year existence. Although he isn’t present during negotiations, Barclay’s role is to focus on domestic preparations.

Where May and her negotiating party focus on the larger financial, business and political repercussions of leaving the EU, Barclay is looking at local politics and the internal struggles the UK will feel in the aftermath of Brexit.

Most likely to: not really have any impact

Olly Robbins

Prime Minister Theresa May’s European advisor is present with May when she is in meetings with the EU’s senior members, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Michael Barnier.

May’s chief negotiator is responsible for putting any deals to the EU. Throughout the protracted, complex, and often ridiculous debates surrounding Brexit, Robbins has been flying between London and Brussels, to try and give May all the information she needs to move the Brexit deal forward.

Previous Brexit secretary’s David Davis and Dominic Raab have criticised this structure, saying that they were hamstrung in their decision making, with Robbins and May wielding too much influence.

Most likely to: have significant influence without anybody knowing who he is (and clock up lots of air miles)

Jacob Rees-Mogg 

A cutting and constant – but overtly polite – thorn in the side of Theresa May, Rees-Mogg has previously called for her to resign. He is the darling of the hard right and comfortable with the prospect of a no-deal.

He’s influential in the process and has a huge following of leave voters that he can galvanise to put pressure on the government’s handling of Brexit.

Most likely to: save Brexit – in it’s purest form – given the chance

Michele Barnier 

Chief EU Negotiator Barnier is the man who goes head-to-head with May and Robbins over the United Kingdom’s plans to leave the European Union. Often an opponent to British interests in the EU, Barnier has long been a thorn in the side of British negotiators and the archetypal pantomime villain, if you’re a Brexiteer.

He’s been adamant since day one that he will always take a tough stance on any plans to change the plans for Britain’s exit – as recently seen with his views on the Irish backstop and the prospects of renegotiating the Brexit deal in Brussels.

Most likely to: destroy Brexit

Jean-Claude Juncker 

The President of the European Commission since 2014, Juncker has taken the same firm stance that his colleague Michael Barnier has taken – that the EU will not renegotiate any Brexit deal. This is further evidenced by the recent announcement that no matter if there is a deal in place before March 29th, the UK must still pay the leaving bill of €39bn.

The right-wing press has portrayed him as a hard-drinking, hand wandering Eurocrat, hell-bent on denying Britain its freedom. Remainers, no doubt see him as a vital cog in stopping this Brexit thing, once and for all.

Most likely to: destroy Brexit 

Donald Tusk 

In the lead up to the original public vote regarding Brexit in 2016, Tusk was public in his attempt to finding a way for the UK to remain in the European Union. His predictions for a post-Britain union were far from positive.

However, the Council President is part of the EU’s three-man negotiation team. Unlike Juncker and Barnier, Tusk has stated that there are ‘no winners’ from Brexit, and that the next two years will be ‘damage limitation’.

Most likely to: destroy Brexit 

Leo Varadkar 

Brexit deals that Prime Minister Theresa May has put to parliament have had a very strong focus on the Irish border or ‘backstop’.

The constant ‘hard border’ discussions have rumbled on for months, despite the fact that all sides of the debate do not want this outcome. Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is becoming increasingly vocal about his opposition to Brexit and the impact it may have on Ireland.

Most likely to: not really have as much impact as he’d like to think he’s having

Nigel Farage 

Well, he is the man pretty much responsible for bringing about the vote in the first place and he has often threatened to throw himself back into the limelight should May make a hash of Brexit. He’s yet to do so but still has huge support in the country amongst leavers, and a vehicle to air his views via his radio show on LBC.

He was sidelined from the start by May, when many feel he should have been central to negotiations.

Most likely to: talk tough on the sidelines as time is running out for a return

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