In Parliament last week, our new and unelected Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, said she wanted “the best possible arrangement for trade” with the European Union.
Which is exactly what we have now.
In America they have a saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So why does Mrs May want to fix something that isn’t broken?
Mrs May says it’s because that’s what the British people want. Well, that’s a moot point.
Yes, 17 million people voted for Britain to leave the EU – but that’s 17 million out of a population in Britain of 64 million.
And two of the four countries that comprise our Union of the United Kingdom – Scotland and Northern Ireland – don’t want Britain to leave the European Union at all.
What’s strange is that Mrs May also didn’t want Britain to leave the EU. In a keynote speech during the Referendum campaign, she said:
“I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”
And as revealed in an exclusive report by The Guardian, during a private and secretly recorded meeting with Goldman Sachs a month before the Referendum, Mrs May warned that companies would leave the UK if the country voted for Brexit.
What’s more strange is that, including herself, 70% of Mrs May’s Cabinet – 16 out of 23 members – voted to Remain in the EU. All of them said during the Referendum that leaving the EU would be bad for Britain.
So now they’re going to take Britain on a path that they all claimed just a few weeks ago would be against the interests of the country.
During Prime Minister’s questions last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn compared the Prime Minister’s plan to those of Baldrick, from the comedy series Blackadder, who said that his “cunning plan” was to have no plan.
Continued Mr Corbyn:
“Brexit was apparently about taking back control, but the devolved Governments do not know the plan, businesses do not know the plan and Parliament does not know the plan. When will the Prime Minister abandon this shambolic Tory Brexit and develop a plan that delivers for the whole country?”
Mrs May replied:
“We are going to deliver on the vote of the British people. We are going to deliver the best possible deal for trade in goods and services, both with and operationally in the European Union. And we are going to deliver an end to free movement. That is what the British people want and that is what this Government are going to deliver for them.”
Well, that’s the other thing. The British people didn’t vote for “an end to free movement”. That wasn’t on the referendum ballot paper. The only choice was to ‘Remain’ a member of the European Union, or to ‘Leave’.
Mrs May is assuming that all the people who voted for ‘Leave’ did so for the same reasons. But to guess answers to questions that were never asked, is effectively to undermine the entire function of democracy.
Many who voted for ‘Leave’ didn’t necessarily want an end to ‘free movement’, either for themselves, or for our European neighbours.
And most definitely many who voted for ‘Leave’ did not want to end Britain’s full and privileged access to the EU Single Market, where just under half of Britain’s exports go to, and just over half of Britain’s imports come from.
We know it’s possible to leave the European Union and still be part of the EU Single Market – the world’s biggest, richest marketplace, and the source of considerable wealth for Britain and Britons.
After all, Norway and Switzerland are not members of the EU, but are still part of the EU Single Market. Voluntarily. Because much of the wealth of those countries is also intrinsically linked to the Single Market.
However, it’s not possible to enjoy being part of the EU Single Market without also accepting free movement of people.
Mrs May is being arrogantly presumptuous in claiming that Britain voted against ‘free movement of people’ (even though we never had a vote on that).
But by ending ‘free movement’, as she has now promised to do, it will be impossible for Mrs May to deliver on her other promise of delivering “the best possible deal for trade” with the EU.
She cannot have one, without the other.
Britain currently has the “best possible deal for trade” with the EU Single Market. We cannot possibly get any better, either in or out of the EU. We have the best now.
Instead of getting the best deal, Mrs May is going to end the best deal.
- Nobody in Britain voted for Mrs May’s new administration, which UKIP’s Roger Helmer, MEP, claimed this month has adopted “about 90% of UKIP’s programme”.
- Nobody in Britain voted to end ‘free movement of people’.
- Nobody in Britain voted to end Britain’s privileged access to the EU Single Market.
But that’s what Mrs May says that the British people want, so that’s what Britain is getting.
Other stories by Jon Danzig:
- Is Britain sure about Brexit?
- Mrs May takes control, without a ballot or a bullet
- It’s not undemocratic to challenge Brexit
- List of the latest articles by Jon Danzig
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