Avoiding the cliff edge?

Brexit news has come thick and fast this past week. While we don’t see the need to comment on every twist and turn, some recent developments have been quite significant.

In particular, following reports of disagreements within Mrs May’s cabinet over how “hard” Brexit should be, we are now informed that the Cabinet is united over the need for a transitional deal pending full departure from the EU.  There has been considerable pressure from business leaders worried about the relatively short timescale to prepare for departing the EU. According to the Daily Mail, Mrs May told a group of senior figures from industry that she wanted to avoid a ‘cliff-edge’ exit from the EU.

The article also said that even David Davis, one of the ministers keenest to leave the EU as soon as possible, is reconciled to a transitional Brexit period lasting until 2022.

Of course, with 2022 is now the new date for the next General Election, this puts a great deal of pressure on the Government to make sure we’re through the transition period before voters go to the polls. A recent survey by YouGov studied the main reasons given by voters for supporting the two big parties in this year’s election. Among Tory voters, Brexit came top of the list with 21% citing it as their top concern. By contrast, Brexit (either supporting or opposing it) did not feature at all in the top 10 reasons why people voted Labour.  Achieving a successful Brexit looks like being essential for the Tories if they are to stand a chance of remaining in power next time round.

One big issue in many voters’ minds was immigration and it is possible from the snippets revealed by a government source that no attempt will be made to restrict migration from the EU during the transition period, although when the BBC reported on this topic, it merely used the term “might be” no restriction. If this is the case, it would confirm Mrs May’s statement earlier this week that whatever the transitional arrangement may be, it is not going to include remaining within the Single Market. If so, what will it include? A safer transitional option, the EEA/EFTA route, would enable us, via the Liechtenstein Solution, to start imposing restrictions  far sooner.

Opposition to housing development in greenfield sites and in small towns is not going to go away either, particularly as an increasing number of people are starting to make the obvious link between housing shortages, concreting over the countryside and immigration. This will only add further pressure on the Tories.

However, if voters may be concerned that the government is kicking its migration target further down  the road, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee thinks otherwise, noting that Brexit will encourage firms to replace cheap labour with robots. In a sense, this is nothing more than the House of Lords playing catch-up. Almost two years ago, Andy Haldane of the Bank of England said that millions of jobs would be replaced by robots in the next twenty years. Even allowing for exaggeration and/or technology not developing as fast as suggested by the headline report, if we start to become a world leader in artificial intelligence, we will be struggling to find work for the current immigrants and with the exception of top professionals, certainly won’t want any more.

As the summer recess begins, the government will not have an easy job to  keep everyone happy, be it the many shades of opinion among leave voters, the Business community or even the Cabinet. We are still woefully thin on detail about even its transitional plans, but at least we have now been told that the important players are not only talking to one another but listening and attempting to find common ground that will keep most leave voters and business people on side. That still leaves a lot of concerns unaddressed, but for this small mercy we must be thankful.

Photo by williamcho

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John Petley

John Petley

John Petley is Operations Manager for Campaign for an Independent Britain

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6 comments

  1. Andrew PittReply

    We’re not really leaving the EU until almost six years after the referendum? Officially we’ll leave March 2019, but in reality we’ll still be in the EU. This ‘transition period’ is just about the Conservative Party’s need to kick the can down the road because its MPs are divided – two-thirds Remainers and one third Leavers, and indeed many of the Leavers are flexible. Six years is a long time and it’s a way of dressing-up staying in: by that time the Remainers hope that public opinion will have changed.

    • John Petley
      John PetleyReply

      I don’t think so. For one thing, we still don;t know what the government’s plans actually are. Secondly, as I have stated before, a Tory government DARE NOT backpedal on Brexit. Any such move would be as good as handing over the keys of No. 10 top Mr Corbyn at the next election and they know it. Achieving a smooth Brexit isn’t going to be easy but there’s no walking away from it if the Conservative Party is to haev anyfuture at all.

  2. Phil JonesReply

    I agree fully with Andrew. Brexit has to be completed as quickly as possible, since the Remainers are counting on the changing demographics of an aging population and a new government giving a second referendum. I want to see a plan in place and fully operational by 1 April 2019, with Brexit so advanced that there would be zero chance of a reversal. “Transitional arrangement” equals delays and time for reversal. And no EEA with its freedom of movement nor EFTA with its customs union. Norway (EEA) and Switzerland (EFTA) are quasi provinces, albeit not full provinces (Member States) of the EU. I want to see the UK fully out of the EU, not half-in, half-out, but another US or Brazil or Russia or South Africa in terms of not being locked to any arrangement where it is not in full control of its borders and not able to trade freely with the rest of the world — a “country” in the sense that word is used everywhere in the world except the EU provinces and Scotland.

    John, you say that the Conservatives would never go back on Brexit because of the political consequences, and that’s undoubtedly so. But the time will come when an irresponsible party called Labour takes over again. The pendulum always returns. Mrs. May should keep to her “Brexit means Brexit” or else get out and let David Davis or some other committed Brexiteer take over.

    • Adam HileyReply

      do you think We or Theresa May should give Phillip Hammond a p45 and Carney a plane ticket one way back to Canada

  3. Gordon WebsterReply

    What are they finding to discuss? The British people have voted to Leave, and article 50 has been invoked. All I seem to read in the Press is Brussels demands this, and the 27 Member States demand that. Not once have I heard what they are offering in return. Access to the Single Market? America has that but pays nothing, as does China and Australia. If they want to keep the trade they spent 44 years engineering, by closing our major industries, then what are they offering in return? Access to the Single Market, with demands for Open Borders and continued control by the ECJ, is not negotiation it is unacceptable interference, and reason to walk away.
    I have attended Negotiation Courses till they were coming out my ears, and they were always about Win Win, and Give and Take. Our Membership of the Common Market was illegal under Constitutional Law, and our Membership of the EU since Maastricht has been an Act of Treason, so what are they finding to talk about now that we have said leave. The remaining 27 Members, if the Press is to be believed, are acting like bees round a honeypot, looking to put in the sting for all they can extort.
    You may not like the Union Barons of old, but men like Joe Gormley would have made their pitch, gotten their strike ballot, and walked when their pitch was refused. They negotiated from strength, not pusillanimous weakness.

  4. OctaviaReply

    A good article and thank you for trying to give us leavers encouragement. We are certainly need it and are not getting it from Westminster.

    It does not inspire confidence when the Tory Party is squabbling and going into a bunker mentality. We voted to leave and, as Andrew said above, it looks as if we are not actually leaving until almost six years after the referendum with open borders until then. Does no-one at Westminster ever ask where the food and water will come from in fifty years?

    An excerpt taken from Oliver Cromwell’s paraphrased speech to the Rump Parliament in 1648 sums up how I now feel about governments: “…Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. Ye, who were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance…In the name of God, go.”

    The only trouble with telling them all to go, is that parliamentarians of all colours have become a pestilential lot.

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