16th January 2017
The prime minister Theresa May is to give a speech on Brexit this week.
For somebody who professes not to want to give a “running commentary” her speech is widely trailed in the media.
And for somebody who is often described as wanting to keep her cards to her chest, she has played a number of cards already. On the card table are the following:
– the intended date of the Article 50 notification;
– the intention to keep to the Article 50 two-year timetable without an extension;
– the intention for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union;
– the intention for the United Kingdom to leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice;
– the objective of the United Kingdom to take control of its borders (ie, ending free movement of persons);
– the objective of the United Kingdom to take control of its laws; and
– the objective of the United Kingdom to take control of its money (ie, ending compulsory contributions to the European Union budget).
Given these open positions, it is hard to see what cards are still in her hand.
This week’s speech is expected to say that the United Kingdom is prepared to leave the single market. But, as I have set out on this blog and at the FT, the departure of the United Kingdom from the single market is the necessary implication of the positions which the prime minister has admitted to holding.
Perhaps the speech will reveal something about how the United Kingdom is seeking to attain the objectives. Perhaps there will be some statements about still-unknown issues such as the United Kingdom’s position on a customs union.
Or perhaps it will be a sequence of slogans and ambitions, without any substance on how they will be converted into reality.
More important may be the interview from the chancellor of the exchequer Phillip Hammond with a German newspaper. He often seems to be the only grown-up in the cabinet.
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