Cameron’s legacy of confusion

David Cameron didn’t expect to lose last year’s referendum and banned the Civil Service from devising any exit strategy. That became an excuse for a nine month gestation period by Mrs. May which delivered only repetitions of “Brexit means Brexit”. The official leave campaign, vote.leave, refused to devise an exit strategy either. The only serious research on offer before the referendum which charted a comprehensive exit strategy was Flexcit, which recommended the EEA/EFTA route as a transitional arrangement. Since the referendum, only one further independent, detailed attempt has been made to tackle the issues involved – the Bruges Group’s What will it look like? which claimed that another exit route was possible within the time limit, while recognising a number of potential obstacles.

A recent post by Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service painted a very upbeat picture of the work being done by the newly-created Department for Exiting the EU but he didn’t go into any detail about exit strategy. This department has far more staff available than the Bruges Group so it is rather worrying that we still know so little.

As our Chairman, Edward Spalton, has pointed out, when we joined the EEC in 1973, businesses were being briefed over a year in advance about the forthcoming changes.  Recently, a number of businessmen  who  met with government ministers, including the Brexit secretary David Davis, were very concerned about the lack of  detail they had been given. Similar reservations have come from groups ranging from the chemical manufacturers and the Federation of Small Business – the latter including a number of long-standing Brexit supporters.

Mr Davis unquestionably feels very confident about the UK’s prospects outside the EU. In the long term he could well be right. To be free of control by Brussels and able to manage our own affairs will be an inestimable benefit – but only if we are able to chart a sensible course through the choppy waters of what are shaping up to be far more complex negotiations than many Brexiteers ever imagined.

The stakes could not be higher for Mrs May and the Conservative Party.  There will be no backing out of Brexit.  Even though only a minority of MPs campaigned for leave, the majority of her party’s activists are staunch leavers and would not countenance any sort of betrayal. The unexpectedly strong showing by Labour in last month’s General Election only adds to the pressure. Any failure to deliver a competent Brexit as good as guarantees Mr Corbyn the keys to No. 10 in 2022 – or perhaps earlier.

Leaving  the EU  is the biggest challenge Mrs May and her team will face. We do not know what is going on behind the scenes but  the government  needs to have sufficient known policies in view to reassure the public, to avoid disrupting  economic expectations  and to deny traction to the campaign to rejoin the EU. Advice to all industries concerning the effects of government plans needs to be given in plenty of time for them to adjust.

To put it another way, our EU membership has been like a malignant, cancerous tumour. Untreated, it would have led to certain death. That’s why we were right to vote to leave. However, the complex task of cutting it out should  be done by a team of top surgeons who not only know what they are doing but can communicate their knowledge and confidence to the people. At the moment, even though there seems to be a growing agreement that some sort of transitional deal is necessary, no details at all have emerged.

Membership of the Single Market, even as an interim arrangement, has been ruled out and significantly, it was the Chancellor Philip Hammond, one of the “doves” in government, who stated this explicitly on the Andrew Marr show last Sunday. So what will it include? Catherine McGuinness, the de facto leader of the City of London’s municipal body, says Britain and the EU must agree the outlines of any transition before the end of the year or as many as 15,000 banking jobs could leave London.

The sense of lack of concentration was not helped by a picture of Michel Barnier and his EU team turning up  for the second round of Brexit talks with  great thick folders of notes while David Davis and his associates had none.

So will some positive signal emerge to calm worried businesses  – and indeed, worried Brexit supporters? If so, the sooner the better, as the opponents of Brexit are gleefully cashing in on the  lack of direction,  communicated by default.   Most people just want to see Brexit done and dusted with reasonable assurance of that steadily performing  economy on which all our livelihoods depend.


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  1. Adam HileyReply

    Cameron’s legacy is like that of Blair Brown or Major nothing to cheer about

  2. Pingback: Who will blink first? - Campaign for an Independent BritainCampaign for an Independent Britain

  3. Phil JonesReply

    The EU will stall and stall, hoping that changing demographics and a new government will bring a reversal of Brexit. When I and 17+ million others voted on 23 June last year I believe that all of us fully appreciated that leaving would mean the UK going through a ‘rough period’ with uncertainty for business and a drop in trade for a certain period. The Fear Campaign made us all fully aware that the UK could well come to the ‘cliff edge’ as far as Big Business and trade before the fresh air would blow in and we could taste true freedom. We all knew that the price to be paid for freedom was a possible ‘cliff edge’ of uncertainty that we would need to move through. BUT ALL WE SEEM TO HEAR FROM THE DESPICABLE LEFTIST LIBERAL MEDIA OF LATE, PARROTING THOSE IN BIG BUSINESS, IS IN REGARD THE ‘CLIFF EDGE’ AND THAT’S CAUSING THE WEAKEST POLITICIANS SUCH AS THERESA MAY TO BACK DOWN ON PROCEEDING AT FULL SPEED WITH BREXIT. She seems lost, trying to ride a middle road of proceeding with Brexit — but not at full speed and all the while trying to appease Philip Hammond and Big Business. It was 17+ million ‘human persons’ who voted for Brexit (knowing full well the consequences thanks to the endless fear campaign), not ‘corporate persons’, i.e. corporations, who only care about the bottom line, advertising in one language and trading in one currency.

    David Davis has to be ready to simply walk away from the biased EU position — and to do so with full support from Mrs. May. There will be a ‘cliff edge’ of some sort. We were told to expect it for months leading up to the 23 June voting last year. Let’s get on with things regardless of the short-term consequences. At present Mrs. May appears to me to be like a youngster who has promised all her young buddies that she will jump off the high diving board — only to have second thoughts and make excuses and dilly-dally when she gets out on the board and looks down.

  4. david bartropReply

    The government negotiators cannot lay out our red lines and show their hand as that would enable the EU to start there and force concessions .I personally would produce all the goods and food, and ALL THE FISHING TO 200 MILES,we can in the UK,for home consumption,and source all the imports we can find in the rest of the world, and go to the EU for anything else, which should amount to indigenous products Palma Ham etc, and not much else, buying anything for price and quality from around gthe world. Exporting to where ever people want our goods.
    The EU seem to me will only move if they think they will lose us as a market and then possibly not, being prepared to cut off their nose to spite their face. Mrs May being “awkward” herself in negotiations,
    realises this, thus the quote ” No deal is better than a bad deal” as with the time available, and the EU ‘s intransigence it will mean”No deal” and all the firms in the UK will have to forge new export markets if they have none at present.
    David Bartrop

  5. Gordon WebsterReply

    Albert Venn Dicey states that “The People of Britain are Absolute Sovereign.” Every politician who sits in Westminster, or Holyrood, or Stormont, or Cardiff, does so at OUR request, and by our democratic vote, and can be removed in the same way. Being Absolute Legal Sovereign of Britain, only we can surrender that which is ours to give – Our Sovereign Right. The Accession Treaty, The Maastricht Treaty, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon gave more and more of our Sovereign Right away without our permission. The Supreme Court stated that Article 50 Terms would have to be placed before the Sovereign Parliament, which statement virtually ruled all of these Treaties illegal, since none were discussed or debated in Parliament.
    Cameron’s ploy was to get the British People scared enough to Vote Remain, thus legally surrendering their sovereignty, once and for all. Vince Cable has recently blurted out, that Britain will never “gain,” its sovereignty, by which admission he gave the lie to all Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers who insisted no sovereignty had been transferred or ceded – loss or transfer of sovereignty may not be a part of any Treaty, according to the VCTL, I believe. Cameron’s ploy failed, and we retain our legal sovereignty, which politicians had no right to give away.

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