One hundred years ago to the day, a British Prime Minister faced a monumentally awful situation. Happily, one hundred years later the UK’s present Prime Minister does not have such a situation but Prime Minister Mrs May does indeed have a problem. It is a very big problem. It is called the Brexit Agenda. It threatens to be the most poisonous of poison chalices in the entire world history of poison chalices!
Now some in the media are beginning to report reality. Herewith an example: https://www.mail.com/int/business/markets/4520410-uk-desperately-short-trade-experts-to-lead-brexit.html#.1272-stage-hero1-2
At it’s simplest, Mrs May’s problem can be expressed in two equations that even the most simple minded (Yes, David Davis we mean YOU) should be able to understand:
Brexit + wish not to crash economy = Flexcit.
Brexit + not bothered about crashing economy = Brexit – Flexcit.
So, rather than spend any more time repeating what has been repeated in previous articles let us present the situation in terms that a party politician will most easily recognise and understand: Winning the next election!
Hopefully by now Mrs May should be on the receiving end of some advice which runs along these lines:
“Flexcit is the ONLY achievable Brexit strategy that does NOT result in a massive economic crash!”
Realising that crashing the UK’s economy will result in the chances of the Tories winning the next General Election are rather less than Kim Jong-un being voted “Man of the Year” by the citizens of South Korea, Mrs May will be beginning to apply her mind to how she can avoid the political equivalent of Cleopatra clasping the viper to her bosom.
Of course this all can be boiled down and described in one word: Mandate.
De Facto, but not De Jure, Thursday 23rd June 2016 handed the politicians a mandate to take the UK out of the EU. However, this mandate was shaped by the representations made by the Leave side during the campaign. And here we have the nub of Mrs May’s problem. That “nub” has a name. He is called Nigel Farage.
During the campaign Mr Farage campaigned for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and also that the UK “take back control” in particular over its borders and immigration policy. Mr Farage went on to make a specific proposal: The introduction of an “Australian style points based system.”
Not surprisingly, many E, D, C2 and C1 voters who feeling themselves to be victims of mass uncontrolled and uncontrollable EU immigration followed Mr Farage’s advice and votes Leave.
But there of course we have the route cause of the quandary that Mrs May finds herself in. She is forced to address those two equations which can be further defined:
Brexit + wish not to crash economy = Flexcit.
Brexit + not bothered about crashing economy = Brexit + Australian style points based system.
So there we have it! Mrs May has a mandate to pursue a policy that will result in crashing the UK’s economy! What she does NOT have is a mandate to pursue Flexcit. This is because whilst Article 112 of the treaties governing the EEA allow EFTA (but not EU) members a significant measure of control over EU immigration, it is not and cannot be described as an Australian style points based system!
Mr Farage declared that he cheered and cheered the moment the Leave campaign adopted his campaigning strategy vis-à-vis EU immigration. This is not surprising as Mr Farage knew that uncontrolled and uncontrollable EU immigration was what US politicians call a “hot button” issue. Mr Farage has now quit the leadership of UKIP but many in UKIP are continuing to press for early submission of Article 50 and for the UK to adopt what they like to call “Brexit Max” by which they mean that the UK leaves the EU and also the EEA as opposed to what they claim as being “Brexit Lite” – EFTA+EEA membership – aka Flexcit.
Therefore what Mrs May needs to do is to define the Brexit mandate and the way to do that is to call a General Election. Thus if Mrs May wished to pursue let us say, “Practical Brexit” the way to do this is to put two things in the Tory manifesto:
1. A commitment to legislate to allow the Foreign Secretary to place a statutory instrument submitting the UK’s formal notification to leave the EU under Article 50.
2. That FLEXCIT – namely EFTA + EEA membership will be the government’s aim.
This of course will present choices to the parties other than the Tories as to how to respond.
The Liberal Democrats will want al option to remain in the EU.
What the Labour Party is likely to be the same as the Lib-Dems.
The SNP will presumably want the Lafrowda Solution.