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May lays it on the line: Brexit means Brexit……but keep it quiet

May lays it on the line: Brexit means Brexit……but keep it quiet

🕔03.Oct 2016

We now know what Brexit means, well, sort of. But keep it quiet. Careless talk costs lives.

Theresa May didn’t put it quite like that when addressing the Tory faithful.

But the Prime Minister was clear she didn’t want the next few months, or even years, to be dominated by endless chatter about the terms of the exit deal the UK would negotiate with EU leaders.

Defending her own stance that there would be no “running commentary” on the talks between the UK and EU, she said:

History is littered with negotiations that failed when the interlocutors predicted the outcome in detail and in advance.

Every stray word and every hyped up media report is going to make it harder for us to get the right deal for Britain.

As for soft Brexit and hard Brexit, this was simply the result of “muddled thinking” by those who had not come to terms with the result of the referendum. There is just Brexit, it seems.

Mrs May used a speech at the opening session of the conference at the ICC to lay down a series of red lines for the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, indicating Britain would not remain a member of the single market and could be heading for a so-called ‘hard Brexit’.

The Prime Minister said she wanted British companies to have “maximum freedom to trade” with other member states – but that she would not accept free movement of people or the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

A string of EU leaders have made clear that Britain will not be allowed to remain a member or retain full access to the single market without also keeping free movement in place, while ending ECJ influence would also appear to be incompatible with membership.

In her first address to Conservative conference as Prime Minister, Mrs May said:

I want that deal to reflect the kind of mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.

I want it to include cooperation on law enforcement and counter-terrorism work. I want it to involve free trade, in goods and services. I want it to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the Single Market – and let European businesses do the same here.

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.

Earlier she announced that Article 50 would be triggered by the end of March and that the UK would repeal the 1972 European Communities Act

The comments have been met with immediate condemnation from a cross-party set of pro-EU MPs.

Anna Soubry, the Conservative former business minister, said Mrs May and the Government was being “gung-ho” in invoking Article 50 before the German elections next autumn. In a statement published by the Open Britain group she said:

The Government should be pressing for a deal that keeps Britain open and engaged with Europe, including keeping us in the Single Market that supports millions of UK jobs.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Mrs May had confirmed the UK was “going for a Hard Brexit”.

This means disaster for British jobs, businesses and our economy,” Nigel Farage’s obsession has officially become government policy.

Mrs May rejected the presentation of ‘soft Brexit’ and ‘hard Brexit’ as the result of “muddled thinking” by those who had not come to terms with the result of the referendum.

This line of argument – in which ‘soft Brexit’ amounts to some form of continued EU membership and ‘hard Brexit’ is a conscious decision to reject trade with Europe – is simply a false dichotomy.

Elsewhere, Mrs May used the address to pay tribute to her predecessor David Cameron.

She said there was “no finer accolade” than the fact that he put the EU question to the British people – even though it ultimately brought about his political downfall.

But she also hinted made an implicit attack on Mr Cameron’s strategy when he was renegotiating the UK’s relationship with the EU before the referendum.

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