Three months on from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, it sometimes seems we know no more about Brexit now than we did then. That is despite Theresa May’s insistence that “Brexit means Brexit”—and Boris Johnson’s recent announcement that we may trigger Article 50 in early 2017. No 10 has declined to back Johnson’s claim up.
Look closely, though, and we find some hints. David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said earlier this month that it is “very improbable” the UK will remain a member of the EU’s Single Market “if a requirement of membership is giving up control of our borders.” Davis also conceded last week that it is possible we will leave the EU with no deal in place, which would mean trading on World Trade Organisation tariffs. No 10 has distanced itself from Davis’ claims too, but given Davis’ oversight of the Brexit process, they are not easily forgotten.
A new pressure group called “Leave means Leave” has formed. Its members are Conservative eurosceptics, and their aim is for Britain to end free movement and leave the Single Market. Jean-Claude Juncker re-iterated recently that there can be no à la carte access to the Single Market. Britain must accept certain rules if it wants in.
This week, the Slovakian Prime Minister reminded us that his own country, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have the power to veto Brexit deals. Given all this, the passionate pro-European could be forgiven for feeling a bit panicked.
So, is Britain likely to crash out of the EU’s institutions entirely? Or, thanks to our economic heft, are we going to pull something out of the bag? A panel of experts share their views.
Yes—but there’s a silver lining…
Ian Bond, Director of foreign policy at the Centre for European Reform
Britain is heading for a hard Brexit. Theresa May says her priority is to end freedom of movement for EU nationals; the Labour opposition, including prominent “Remainers” like Chuka Umunna, seem to agree that curbing EU migration is more important than staying in the single market.…