Originally published on The Commentator
The Prime Minister’s Brexit plan, put to the Cabinet at the PM’s country retreat, Chequers, today is a clear derogation of duty and makes a mockery of our democratic system. Theresa May is setting the nation on course for the softest possible Brexit – the worst possible outcome.
In a meeting with the European Research Group on Tuesday, the Chief Whip, Julian Smith MP, promised the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan would follow the Conservative Manifesto ‘to the letter.’ This means Leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.
However, it is clear Mrs May has no plans to honour the spirit of those commitments, as she seeks to sign Britain up to a re-named Customs Union and an ever so slightly diluted Single Market membership.
In terms of customs, the Prime Minister is offering what ITV’s Political Editor, Robert Peston, described as ‘largely the Customs Partnership rebranded’.
This option would mean the United Kingdom acting as the European Union’s tax collector, and in practice operating under a system similar to the Customs Union. Mrs May believes this is the only way of avoiding border checks on the island of Ireland. It is ridiculous this one issue is actually controlling and weakening the United Kingdom’s whole global future after Brexit.
Britain would also effectively be tethered to the Single Market in terms of goods by having to conform to ‘regulatory alignment’. This means European standards and laws would continue to dominate the UK market without the UK having any say over the content of those rules.
This obviously has implications for the Customs Union too. While technically Britain would be able to sign free trade agreements with the rest of the world, in practice this ability would effectively be neutered, as Britain would hardly be able to offer better terms to prospective trading partners while still being burdened with weighty, anti-competitive EU red tape. Hardly ‘taking back control’, which is what 17.4 million people voted for in the EU Referendum.
Preferential access for European citizens is also a part of the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan, in a manner not too distant from the free movement of people ensured under the Single Market. Immigration played a very important part in the Referendum result, not just to lower numbers, but to stop the arbitrary and discriminatory policy of allowing any and all EU nationals to come to Britain at the expense of those from the rest of the world.
When Theresa May said ‘Brexit means Brexit’ she at least, in some way, knew what Brexit is supposed to mean. As displayed in the Manifesto and first set out in her Lancaster House speech, the Prime Minister knows Brexit means leaving the Single Market, Customs Union, and all related agreements.
However she never truly understood the spirit of those commitments and the motivations behind them. This is because she was and still is a Remainer at heart, and has surrounded herself with died in the wool Remainers like Philip Hammond, Olly Robbins and Greg Clark to name only a few. May views Brexit as a damage limitation exercise and will clearly do all she can to achieve a ‘Brexit in Name Only’.
To any rational person, it is clear ‘Project Fear’ has been a huge failure. As unemployment continues to reach record lows, exports keep improving, the economy keeps outdoing the gloomy predictions and the predicted recession never happened; each and every Fake News claim continues to unravel before our eyes.
So many big, exciting and emerging nations are queueing up for trade deals with us, except they are being deterred by May’s consistent inconsistency. All the evidence points to Brexit being a massive success if properly grasped.
The Prime Minister is forcing Britain down a middle-way where we will never truly be free to benefit from the Brexit dividend. While refusing to drop the weighty baggage of our European Union membership, we are driving in circles on what should be a journey to global liberation.
If accepted by the EU, May’s Brexit plan to Get Britain Out of this antiquated political project, would do nothing to deliver the best Brexit for the United Kingdom. It would be yet another betrayal by the political establishment over the people, who would once again have to continue demanding changes to our relationship with the EU for decades. It is clear why so many people are disenchanted with mainstream politics, and this is a wrecking ball to the fabric of our nation: democracy.
No Deal would be a far better deal than this elaborate soft squidgy fudge.
Joshua King is a Research Executive at grassroots, cross-party campaign Get Britain Out