Theresa May has concerned Brexiteers after saying that the UK would “take back control” of its laws and borders, but in reality would still follow the EU on regulations.
After 18 months of the prime minister telling the British people they can ‘have their cake and eat it’, she has finally accepted that Brexit will mean some difficult compromises. She acknowledged that access to each others markets would be “less than it is now”, but still refuses to admit that Brexit will cause significant economic hardship for the country, despite the leaked impact assessments showing parts of the country could see growth fall by up to 18%.
The prime minister set out what she called “hard facts” about Brexit, but has still not admitted to the British public that they will be poorer if the UK leaves the EU, no matter the deal.
On the subject of Ireland, May also failed to recognise that leaving the customs union would result in a hard border. To try and square this circle, May proposed a plan where the UK would leave the customs union but continue to follow the regulations set by the EU for the foreseeable future. She claims this delivers on the “will of the people” for a sovereign parliament in Westminster, but in reality would make the UK rule takers from Brussels without the seat at the table our EU membership currently provides.
Moreover, this position where the UK would have access to the single market but the flexibility to cherry pick rules, which has already explicitly been ruled out by EU leaders.
The prime minister set out “five tests” for negotiations and pledged to “bring our country together”, but offered little to convince the growing number of remainers that Brexit would be anything but a disaster for the UK. First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, explains: “More detail, but no progress. A wishlist plan already largely rejected by EU. And even if it could be achieved, it would leave us with arrangements nowhere near as good as being in single market – and with no discernible upside. We can’t allow the Tories to take us there.”
May’s five tests for a Brexit deal
- It must respect the referendum result
- It must be a lasting accord
- It must protect jobs and security
- It must be “consistent with the type of country we want to be as we leave: a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant European democracy”
- It must strengthen “our union of our nations and our people”