June 15, 2017
The politics of Brexit
James Blitz has a great piece on how he sees the politics of Brexit panning out after the elections. The first point he makes is that there will be no cross-party deals. Jeremy Corbyn does not want one because he has no interest in keeping Theresa May in power. He wants new elections as soon as possible. And Theresa May has no interest in a pact either, because she wants to stick to the Brexit mandate she has presented to the European Union. The real issue are the discussions inside the Conservative Party, and in particular the pressure brought by Philip Hammond, who wants the UK to remain in the customs union (a position we have been supporting as well). Blitz notes that Damian Green, whom May brought in as first secretary of state, is also sympathetic to this idea - as is Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland. The event to watch out for is Hammond’s Mansion House speech this Thursday, an annual event which he may use as an opportunity to push for a business-friendly Brexit.
We also noted a comment by Ben Kelly in the Daily Telegraph in support of Hammond’s position. The issue is not permanent membership of the customs union, but limited to a transitional period. He says, correctly, that membership of the customs union was bound up legally with membership of the EU. While the EU and Turkey have a customs union arrangement, this is arrangement is too one-sided to be acceptable as a blueprint for the UK.
“An interim period in which current arrangements are retained should not be opposed by Brexiteers. The disadvantage of not being able to conclude trade agreements will be cited, but we are not currently in a position to pursue multiple trade agreements. The government is short of capacity because the project of leaving the EU is going to trump all else and we don’t currently have the resource."