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16 September 2016

Edelman Briefing: EU Council Update

Brexit, Government Affairs

Brexit means Brexit. This has been the mantra of the new Prime Minister Theresa May who told her Cabinet in her first meeting in the Chair “we are all Brexit Minsters now”.

But she has been coming under increasing pressure to explain what Brexit will actually entail. The Prime Minster has sought to explain the lack of detail by arguing that she was not ready to put all her “cards on the table” ahead of her negotiations with Brussels on Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

But it has become apparent that she does not have all her cards in her hand and some have not yet left the dealer’s hands!

On the two crucial issues of immigration and access to the single market there is at least confusion within Government.

On access to the single market for instance, Mrs May recently rebuked the Minister in her Cabinet, David Davis, who is responsible for Brexit. He told MPs in his first Commons statement in his new role at the beginning of the month that it was “very improbable” that the UK could remain a full member of the EU’s trade zone while withdrawing from free movement rules.

However, the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman instantly rebuked him, insisted that he was giving a personal opinion rather than outlining Government policy, the work on which is ongoing.

On immigration, differences have also surfaced. During the referendum, Vote Leave, one of whose leaders, Boris Johnson, is now Foreign Secretary, advocated an Australian-style points system. This emphasised that Britain would choose who came into the country. However Theresa May recently ruled this out – “It’s not a silver bullet” – not because it would be too strict, but that too many people would meet the criteria and come in. Indeed, after the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage suggested that the Prime Minister was betraying Leave voters, Mrs May’s office issued a statement saying the Government would devise an immigration system that gave it more control than a points-based system.

Edelman has produced a briefing on the EU Council, with perspectives from Brussels, Berlin, Paris and London. To read it in full, click here

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