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03 October 2016

PM May to the Conservative Party: Hard Brexit

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PM May’s speech to the Conservative Conference: It reads like Hard Brexit; it’s spun as Hard Brexit so it probably is Hard Brexit because it is completely inconsistent with EEA membership. For the avoidance of any doubt, this inconsistency was repeated four times!

Closing off the possibility of an EEA deal is bad news for the UK’s financial services industry as the possibility of remaining “equivalent” to keep the “passport” becomes ever more remote. When is Chancellor Hammond going to come clean on how much of the industry’s £66 billion of tax revenues will be lost by 2019? Perhaps the November Autumn Statement “re-set” of fiscal policy will be an even nastier shock for financial markets than they are braced for.

Speech extracts with commentary

I have added my commentary to these extracts from the Prime Minister’s speech:“As we repeal the European Communities Act, we will convert the ‘acquis’ – that is, the body of existing EU law – into British law. When the Great Repeal Bill is given Royal Assent, Parliament will be free – subject to (so not free at all..) international agreements and treaties with other countries and the EU on matters such as trade – to amend, repeal and improve any law it chooses. …Any changes in the law will have to be subject to full scrutiny and proper Parliamentary debate… So this rules out EEA membership as the essence of that concept is slavishly following- with no influence - the decisions made by the EU.

And that means we are going, once more, to have the freedom to make our own decisions on a whole host of different matters, from how we label our food to the way in which we choose to control immigration. Re-iterating the impossibility of EEA membership.

So the process we are about to begin is not about negotiating all of our sovereignty away again…. It is not, therefore, a negotiation to establish a relationship anything like the one we have had for the last forty years or more. So it is not going to a “Norway model”. It’s not going to be a “Switzerland model”. It is going to be an agreement between an independent, sovereign United Kingdom and the European Union…Re-iterating the impossibility of EEA membership.

But let me be clear. We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Re-iterating the impossibility of EEA membership.


1.      “Because we are the fifth biggest economy in the world”: PM’s Speech writer should note that the Brexit vote devalued sterling so the UK is now thesixth biggest economy.

2.      “The referendum result was clear... It was the biggest vote for change this country has ever known” Technically accurate as the UK’s population is also the biggest the country has ever known. However, a more normal method of considering the degree of popular support is the voter turnout - 72.2% in the referendum. The turnout in all 14 General Elections between 1945 and 1992 was equal – or much higher, exceeding 80% in the early ‘50’s.

3.      “But we will not be able to give a running commentary or a blow-by-blow account of the negotiations.” However, the other 27 EU States may not be as silent as they may feel a democratic responsibility to keep their Parliaments and electors informed. Moreover, the European Commission and European Parliament may make comments. Analysts may also talk to the other participants – for example, Charles Grant’s excellent paper  Why the 27 are taking a hard line on Brexit.



© Graham Bishop

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