May’s Road to Brexit or a Road to Nowhere?
I’m sure it will not have gone unnoticed amongst the British population in Spain that every time Theresa May opens her mouth, the value of Sterling goes down. Last Friday was no exception, when May made her third major speech at Mansion House, London, and those with UK incomes or pensions will have felt the pinch.
Reactions to May's speech were as mixed as the PM’s own messages. While some have praised May for adding clarity and detail to her Brexit ‘plan’, others criticised her obvious continuation of delusional thinking and unrealistic expectations.
May publicly acknowledged that the UK cannot obtain everything it wants from any deal and that compromises needed to be made. However, she's still under the delusion that the EU needs us as much as we need it and that Britain will triumph, despite plenty of evidence to suggest the contrary. May stated that we need to face hard facts and that ‘life is going to be different’. It was noticeable that she chose the word ‘different’ rather than ‘better’, so she is no longer pretending that leaving the EU will be beneficial to the UK.
May listed five tests for Brexit: that it respects the referendum result; is a lasting solution; protects jobs; maintains an outward-looking, tolerant democracy and protects the unity of the United Kingdom. Brexit itself, or at least May's hard version of it, would damage every one of her own tests. May's insistence in respecting the ‘will of the people’ as of June 23, 2016 is no respecter of democracy or the people if she only considers how they felt at that particular snapshot in time. So many voters have reconsidered their feelings about leaving the EU, now that the true facts and ramifications are known. The ‘will of the people’ today is demonstrably different to how it was on referendum day and should not be ignored.
The European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted: "I welcome Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech. Clarity about UK leaving single market and customs union, and recognition of trade-offs, will inform European Council guidelines re: future free trade agreement.”
The most scathing attack came from Guy Verhofstadt, who said: “Theresa May needed to move beyond vague aspirations. We can only hope that serious proposals have been put in the post. While I welcome the call for a deep and special partnership, this cannot be achieved by putting a few extra cherries on the Brexit cake.”
May's red lines are turning pinker by the minute – it’s time she woke up and accepts that the EU has rules in place to protect the integrity of the single market and its members, and that the UK is not a special case.
When questioned by a German reporter on whether Brexit is worth it, May gave her usual fudged non-answer. It is becoming increasingly clear, not least to the British public, that Brexit bears no resemblance to what many thought they were voting towards. It seems unlikely that whatever deal May manages to secure will have the support of Parliament. In fact, there may be a crisis long before then, should May lose the vote in the House of Commons regarding membership of the Common Market. There’s also likely to be a significant number of new amendments sent down from the House of Lords, which are likely to include staying in the Single Market and a vote for the public on the final deal. With each new day, and with each new Brexit disaster becoming clear, the chances of a public vote become ever more likely, perhaps inevitable.
May likes to repeat regularly that we are leaving the EU, re- gardless of any evidence, analysis or opposition pointing out that it is the worst idea for generations and will cause untold damage to the country and its people. She also talks about citizens’ rights as if they are done and dusted, and we should all be grateful for all she’s done. She is wrong on both counts. Citizens’ rights issues are neither resolved nor guaranteed, and Brexit is not inevitable. On the contrary, Brexit is undeliverable, undesirable and in its death throes.
May’s speech may have brought the Conservative party together for the moment but the truce cannot last when the factions are so diametrically opposed. Brexit can be stopped before it does any further damage to the country but the same might not be true of the government or party that pursues this suicidal course.
May's idea of a Brexit plan has been little more than delusional rhetoric and catchphrases, the latest being ‘ambitious but practical’ - just another in a long list of meaningless soundbites. I have written to Number 10 with my own suggestion for a replacement, when they have run out of ideas. I think, in relation to Brexit, ‘pointless and cancelled’ just about covers it.