Bri­tain Brexit plan? There’s no plan, leaked memo says PM May try­ing to keep party to­gether

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Bri­tain has no over­all strat­egy for leav­ing the Euro­pean Union and splits in Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s cab­i­net could de­lay a clear ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion for six months, according to a memo for the govern­ment that was leaked to The Times news­pa­per. The doc­u­ment, pre­pared by a con­sul­tant for the govern­ment depart­ment that sup­ports the prime min­is­ter and her cab­i­net, casts Bri­tain’s top team in a chaotic light: May is try­ing to con­trol key Brexit ques­tions her­self while her se­nior min­is­ters are di­vided and the civil ser­vice is in tur­moil.

“The Prime Min­is­ter is rapidly ac­quir­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of draw­ing in de­ci­sions and de­tails to set­tle mat­ters her­self - which is un­likely to be sus­tain­able,” according to the doc­u­ment, dated Nov 7 and pub­lished by The Times. “It may be 6 months be­fore there is a view on pri­or­i­ties/ne­go­ti­a­tion strat­egy as the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the UK and the EU evolves,” said the doc­u­ment, ti­tled “Brexit Up­date”. A spokesman for Down­ing Street said it did not rec­og­nize the as­ser­tions made in the doc­u­ment but did not ex­plic­itly deny the au­then­tic­ity of the doc­u­ment. The prime min­is­ter is fo­cused on mak­ing a suc­cess of Brexit, the spokesman said.

But such a dis­or­derly por­trayal of the govern­ment un­der­scores both the ex­tent of the tur­moil un­leashed by the June 23 vote to leave the EU and the un­cer­tain­ties ahead as May tries to pull Bri­tain out of the world’s big­gest trad­ing bloc. Like the Brexit vote, Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory in the United States has un­der­scored how swiftly as­sump­tions are be­ing turned up­side down, push­ing gov­ern­ments, in­vestors and chief ex­ec­u­tives into the un­known. The pound fell as much as 1.3 per­cent to 87.07 pence per euro fol­low­ing the memo leak be­fore re­cov­er­ing to 86.92 pence. It also lost more than half a per­cent to $1.2417.

‘No com­mon strat­egy’

The memo said no com­mon strat­egy had emerged, partly as a re­sult of splits within the govern­ment and partly due to the evolv­ing po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the rest of the EU where both France and Ger­many face ma­jor elec­tions in 2017. May’s cab­i­net is split, with For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son, Trade Min­is­ter Liam Fox and Brexit Min­is­ter David Davis - who all cam­paigned to leave the EU - on one side and fi­nance min­is­ter Philip Ham­mond and Busi­ness Sec­re­tary Greg Clark - who wanted to re­main - on the other, according to the memo. May’s pri­or­ity, it said, is sur­vival and keep­ing her rul­ing Con­ser­va­tive Party to­gether, rather than busi­ness or eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions.

“In­dus­try has 2 un­pleas­ant re­al­iza­tions - first, that the Govern­ment’s pri­or­ity re­mains its po­lit­i­cal sur­vival, not the econ­omy,” the memo said. “Sec­ond, that there will be no clear eco­nomic-Brexit strat­egy any time soon be­cause it is be­ing de­vel­oped on a case-by-case ba­sis as spe­cific de­ci­sions are forced on Govern­ment.” The doc­u­ment also said that “ma­jor play­ers” in in­dus­try were likely to “point a gun at govern­ment’s head” to se­cure as­sur­ances sim­i­lar to that given to car­maker Nis­san that it would not suf­fer from Brexit.

“The pub­lic stance of Govern­ment is ori­en­tated pri­mar­ily to its own sup­port­ers, with in­dus­try in par­tic­u­lar barely be­ing on the radar screen - yet,” it said.

Govern­ment de­part­ments were work­ing on more than 500 Brex­itre­lated projects and might re­quire an ad­di­tional 30,000 civil ser­vants, it said. If the Supreme Court forces the govern­ment to give law­mak­ers a say on trig­ger­ing the for­mal talks to leave the bloc, some min­is­ters might be happy to see more rad­i­cal Brexit op­tions wa­tered down, the memo said. May has promised to trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50 of the Lis­bon Treaty, which kicks off two years of talks with Brus­sels, by the end of March but she has so far given lit­tle away about her plans for Bri­tain’s fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the bloc. — Reuters

LON­DON: Bri­tish Sec­re­tary of State for the Depart­ment of Ex­it­ing the Euro­pean Union David Davis (cen­tre) meets Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter Lord Ah­mad (left) and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Lon­don City Air­port, De­clan Col­lier at the east Lon­don air­port on Mon­day Nov 14, 2016. — AP

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