Thursday, January 19, 2017

Theresa May speech - the morning after.

I'm always suspicious of happenings that look brilliant at first reading. It's hill sheep farmer's caution. So often we find that which was good turns out to be 'too good to be true'. But not Theresa May's speech last Tuesday. Of course there are those who do not accept the EU referendum decision, and want to reverse the result (without explicitly saying so). "We respect the vote of the people" etc. is the standard line. Reason I'm writing a blog post is to clarify my own thoughts about what I think the speech meant for me.

I voted Leave mainly because I cannot accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. We will no longer be ruled by this alien political court. If I wasn't on a diet, this commitment would have been worth an entire bottle of best bubbly. It was inevitable though.

The UK will leave the Single Market. Been lot of discussion about this, but it had become clear that our EU partners thought a desire to stay within it would mean, in effect, that the UK would not leave the EU. Best to respect our EU partners strong, implacable views on this, and concede to them what they want now. Improves chance of a deal.

There will be votes on the negotiated 'deal' in both Houses of Parliament. I like this, though am uncertain about how a No vote would be handled. Hope and expect we will not reach such a position. There will also be involvement by the devolved parliaments - involvement without a veto. Not sure where the Welsh First Minister is now. He seems to have based his approach on remaining a member of the Single Market - and that is not going to happen. There will be some form of access to the Single Market though.

Like membership of the Single Market, immigration will no longer be part of the negotiations. The UK will take back control - though I'm not at all sure it will be make much difference to numbers. This was not negotiable. It's why many voted Leave.

Disappointingly, there remains no public guarantee that EU Nationals properly living in the UK will be free to stay. The refusal of the EU to agree a reciprocal deal now, is just the sort of behaviour that persuaded so many to vote Leave. Sheer bloody-mindedness on the part of EU members.

The UK will look to the world to build trade links. Personally, I think the US, China and India should be top targets. We should also look to develop trade with EU countries. Tariffs walls will be damaging to both sides. This is the one area where the negotiations will focus.

There are several other areas for discussion and agreement (hopefully) as well. There must be a Common Travel Area in Ireland between the North and Eire. There must remain close co-operation on climate change policy, on science and research and on defence against international crime and terrorism.

And the final aspect of the Prime Minister's speech was its conciliatory approach towards the EU. The UK is not leaving Europe. The UK wants the EU to be a great economic success story. The UK wants to be a good neighbour. Mrs May, Boris Johnson, David Davis and Philip Hammond have made clear that we are not going to be 'rolled over' or 'pushed about', but the tone of the UKs approach is to be conciliatory and positive. I hope it's reciprocated and leads to a swift and amicable divorce. It's simply a recognition that it was not a wise marriage in the first place.

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