I’ve done the EU stuff to death now so I’ll make a few short pithy comments about Theresa May’s decision today to take the UK off an economic cliff. In her speech, she announced that Britain was “going global”, meaning that we are leaving the single market of 500 million people in order to cut economically beneficial and necessary migration. Going global by pulling up the drawbridge to Europe. Genius.
Leaving the single market, the customs union, ending free movement – this is the price we will pay in order to reduce EU migration. It is an act of self-harm unparalleled in our history.
Partly thanks to our membership of the EU, the economy is doing just fine right now, actually growing quicker than economists suggested. But inflation is on the rise, petrol prices are soaring at the pumps, imports are costing much more feeding through to wholesale and soon prices in the shops and the pound has been tanking. All that has happened long before we leave. The uncertainty will last for many years now.
As the writer Ian Dunt pointed out tonight, May is playing a game of chicken with the EU. She is hoping – praying, I suspect, given that her dad was a vicar – that the EU blinks first, but surely it won’t. Yes, 27 European countries may find their exports hit by a hard Brexit, but we will face an almighty hit and the weak pound, with an even weaker pound to follow, will not prop up what’s left of British industry for long.
I was on the losing side and accepted that Brexit had to happen once the British people voted for it. I think we knew all along that Mrs May would elect for a hard Brexit with all the long term pain and damage it will cause. That she has done it so soon, throwing away so much of her negotiating hand before negotiations even begin – and that won’t be until after the German elections next autumn – beggars belief. She doesn’t even want a transitionary deal. No wonder Nigel Farage was applauding tonight. Brexit is his lifetime’s achievement and a reckless, out-of-her-depth prime minister has handed it to him on a plate.
We’re “going global” by stopping European workers coming here, by leaving the largest free market in the world and by ending free movement for EU citizens including Britons. Only parliament can “take back control” of this country by constantly holding Mrs May to account. For a politician who campaigned, somewhat half-heartedly it must be said, to remain in the EU her volte–face has been breathtaking, even by the low standards of modern politicians.
And 23 June 2016 will go down as one of the darkest days in our history.