The PM conceded that Remainers could still halt the processby Jonathan Lis / October 5, 2018 / Leave a comment
When you have a prime minister as steeped in delusion as Theresa May, it is worth noting and applauding the occasional smuggled burst of truth.
Let us not get ahead of ourselves. The prime minister embedded her conference speech in unreality. She told us that Britain had leverage; that no-deal was better than a bad deal; that you could back business while also backing hard Brexit.
At times the hypocrisy risked veering into parody. May resolved to put the national interest first, while advancing a policy her own government admits will shrink growth. She lamented the decline of political compromise, while interpreting a narrow referendum result as a mandate to sever the basic moorings of our economy. She declared “we must be a party that is not in thrall to ideology,” while implicitly proposing a no-deal scenario of empty supermarkets and cancelled radiotherapy as a price worth paying to unilaterally alter New Zealand’s dairy tariffs.
And yet, on Wednesday Theresa May told the truth three times. Each truth proved devastating.
First, she argued that if she ruled out no-deal, she “would weaken our negotiating position and have to agree to whatever the EU offers.” That is entirely correct—and it is a vital admission. More important, however, is what she did not say: she doesn’t have to rule out no-deal, because it rules itself out.
Why? Because by the government’s own analysis it de-certifies UK aircraft and aviation personnel in the EU and risks economic cataclysm. May promised that “resilience” and “ingenuity” would see us through no-deal, but no amount of either resource can unblock French customs or unmake EU aviation law.
Then there is the inescapable parliamentary conundrum. Hitherto loyal Tory backbenchers such as Amber Rudd and Nick Boles have promised to block no-deal. Given the firm stance of the opposition parties, no-deal is not possible either politically or mathematically.
And so May was absolutely right. We will “have to agree to whatever the EU offers.” Which brings us to her second truth.
The prime minister confirmed what Remain commentators concluded—to Brexiters’ derision—many months ago. The EU identifies our choices as these: “either a deal that keeps us in the EU in all but name, keeps free movement… and stops us signing trade deals with other countries,” she said, “or a deal that carves off Northern Ireland.”
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