As I sit down to write this post the sun is shining in a clear blue sky on a cold mid January day. I have just returned from a walk in the countryside with my wife after listening to Theresa May’s Brexit strategy speech live.
I cannot help feeling that the day and the setting match the mood of the Prime Minister’s speech on Brexit. Bright and optimistic set in a realistic appreciation of the UK’s position regarding the the negotiations to exit the EU.
I do believe Mrs May understands that Britain holds all the aces in this game. So we cannot lose. She knows, and the EU knows, whatever their public face to the contrary.
Mrs May made a great deal of the idea of Britain as a global player and globally oriented, open to other peoples and ideas. This was more than ideological. It was the full PR works leading up to – and interspersing – the message that Brexit will mean Brexit.
She was anticipating the little England accusation beloved of Remoaners.
We will not be partial members, or even associate members of the EU, but equal partners with the EU. We will be good neighbours, friends and allies co-operating on security and defence. But we are going to be a fully sovereign nation making our own laws, no longer accountable to the European Court of Justice.
As a convinced Leave voter of many years standing I would be among the first to spot any indication of compromise or hedging.
Yes, there may be room for such in the suggestion the UK will look for some deal on Customs Union; in her desire to look at transitional arrangements on trade beyond the 2 year Article 50 limit; in the willingness to look at the UK’s continued participation in specific projects.
She did not mention any in particular but I understood that to mean projects like ERASMUS, the student exchange programme – programmes which of necessity would mean a financial contribution.
But she specifically ruled out the massive budget payments which have characterised membership. She also ruled out Single Market membership, and any engagement in the Customs Union provisions which tie the UK’s hands in making her own Trade deals world wide.
She made very clear the need to respect the June 23rd 2016 Referendum vote, and made clear in answers to questions that she fully anticipates that Parliament will do the same when it comes to debate and vote on the final Brexit deal.
What especially made me aware that she intends to see this through, and that she can and will walk away with no deal, was her calm and polite message to those in Europe who want to punish the UK or set terms to dissuade other members leaving.
For their part that would be an act of “self harm” [and I just love the apposite use of a term beloved of Nick Clegg in his propaganda attempts to undermine the Brexit vote]. She understands full well how dependent EU states are on trade into the UK market. And she made clear her willingness to walk away from any deal which did not meet the terms necessary to match the June 23rd vote.
She knows full well she can do it and that the EU would lose out, not Britain.
I do believe that Theresa May understands the strength of Britain’s position and the weakness of the EU’s; that she is prepared to make deals on a proper free trade basis; that she can and will walk away if the EU does not come up with the necessary.
And I believe it because Brexit spells the end of decades of Tory party division on the issue, and it spells the end of the electoral threat from UKIP.
To achieve this prize for his party, Cameron was prepared to gamble on a Referendum. May won’t throw it all away !
As a British expat living in France, I note that the UK Prime Minister stated in her speech that EU leaders refused to settle the question of expats in each others countries at this stage. Theresa May had wanted to take people out of the equation and provide certainty. The EU did not. Even though there are twice as many EU nationals in UK as there are UK citizens in the EU.
This speaks volumes about the condescending and callous mentality of EUtopians: like all ideologues, their Ideal takes precedence over the reality faced by ordinary human beings.
Just one of the many reasons I voted to Leave the EU