Leave campaigners all agreed that we wanted to take back control of our borders. I believe the great majority who voted leave wanted a substantial reduction in immigration. So when Mrs May says she doesn’t want a points based system for immigration – is this the beginning of the ‘Brexit backslide?’
Nigel Farage senses that a ‘full Brexit’ may not be delivered, threatening a return as UKIP leader if immigration isn’t controlled. Indeed, Vote Leave copied UKIP’s manifesto promising an ‘Australian-style points based immigration system’.
I think we should wait and see what she comes up with. There may be a more effective way of controlling numbers, such as the work permit system. This could be better at reducing overall numbers than a points system, as anyone who acquires enough points can enter the country without a job offer. Most of the rest of the world uses this system, so it is clear that it can be successful if implemented correctly.
David Davis, the Minister for Brexit, has given a statement in the House of Commons on where the government is up to on leaving the European Union. He hasn’t said much that is new. I think the re-iteration of the UK as a global trading nation is something that can unite the country. Australia wants a speedy trade deal and others are queuing up. He returned to the spirit of uniting the country several times.
He says the department will work constructively with other departments and all four parts of the UK. He has already visited Northern Ireland, where he re-iterated: ‘There will be no return to the hard borders of the past.’ The Dublin agreement for free movement between the UK and Ireland is a bilateral treaty, so let us hope this comes to fruition.
Mr Davis went on to say that an ‘off the shelf option’ is not being looked at. So no Norwegian or Swiss deal. This will be a unique deal; a UK deal. Much of what we’ve heard before – the statement was basically a broad brush stroke. Although, there are now 180 staff in the department with other Whitehall departments loaning people to help. There are also now 120 staff in Brussels – you can see why the government are waiting until next year to trigger article 50 – they don’t even have enough staff yet!
Mrs May has been very vague with her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ soundbite. Whether we leave the single market or not is a hot topic of contention. Britain Stronger in Europe has reformed as ‘Open Britain’, a pressure group for staying in the single market. In addition, the vast majority of MPs want to stay in the single market.
If Theresa May has any sense, she will deliver a ‘full Brexit’. This would mean control over EU migration and a trade deal with the EU. The electoral opportunities are vast. She can tempt ex Tories from UKIP and win a substantial amount of moderate Labour voters.
There’s no ‘backsliding’ over Brexit – yet. Many leave campaigners are paranoid the government will slide backwards inch by inch. However, I think she should be given the benefit of the doubt. You don’t give away your hand before a tough negotiation. We will have to wait and see. We may even have to wait until January to see what the government has been cooking behind the scenes.
The public are anxious, whether they were remain or leave, to hear what our new relationship with the European Union will be. However, if she takes her time and gets this right, Mrs May could be the most successful Conservative Party leader since Margaret Thatcher.