A month ago I attracted some controversy, and my largest ever number of reads, when I suggested that Theresa May, despite having supported Remain in the referendum, was genuinely intending to deliver a clean Brexit.
Some of my UKIP friends were skeptical. So I suggested a scientific test to decide the issue. I wrote:
We have two hypotheses:
A) May plans to use her General Election mandate to deliver a proper, clean Brexit as set out in her plan in January, or
B) She plans to use her increased majority to water it down and deliver something less.
If it is (A) then she will put her Brexit plan (or at least its main points) into the Tory manifesto. Then all Tory MPS will be signed up to it (except Ken Clarke, the rules don’t apply to him), and the House of Lords will not be able to challenge it. On the other hand it will be very hard for her to go back on anything in her manifesto (cf. the recent reversed budget announcement to increase National Insurance Contributions).
If it is (B) she won’t put anything so detailed in the manifesto in order to give herself flexibility to water the plan down during negotiations.
Today the Conservative Manifesto was published. What are the scores on the doors? (The following quotes are direct from the manifesto).
Leaving the EU
Following the historic referendum on 23rd June 2016, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.
Following the Brexit plan set out in January and since
In her Lancaster House Speech, the prime minister laid out the twelve principles she intends to follow in seeking a new deep and special partnership with the European Union. We have explained our approach in the White Paper on the United Kingdom’s Exit from, and a new relationship with, the European Union, during the passage of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act, in the prime minister’s letter to the president of the European Council invoking Article 50, and in the Great Repeal Bill White Paper.
The wording “intends to follow” does leave some leeway for departing from the plan in the negotiations, so for firm commitments we must look further. But the January plan is not going to be ditched post-election.
Single market and customs union
As we leave the European Union, we will no longer be members of the single market or customs union but we will seek a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement.
There may be specific European programmes in which we might want to participate and if so, it will be reasonable that we make a contribution … however … the days of Britain making vast annual contributions to the European Union will end.
No €100bn then.
Jurisdiction of EU Court
Repatriating EU law to the United Kingdom: We will enact a Great Repeal Bill. Our laws will be made in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and interpreted by judges across the United Kingdom, not in Luxembourg.
That would mean the ECJ has no remit in the UK, including over the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
It is our objective to reduce immigration to sustainable levels, by which we mean annual net migration in the tens of thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands we have seen over the last two decades.
Same old promise that May failed to deliver on as Home Secretary. Will she be any more successful as PM?
Freedom of Movement
Leaving the European Union means, for the first time in decades, that we will be able to control immigration from the European Union too. We will therefore establish an immigration policy that allows us to reduce and control the number of people who come to Britain from the European Union, while still allowing us to attract the skilled workers our economy needs.
That leaves little room for a deal that anyone anyone could describe as freedom of movement. We will likely have a visa and work permits scheme close to those that now apply to non-EU visitors and workers.
I am calling it for hypothesis (A).