“Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it”
I must admit, I got a spine tingling positive feeling with these words from our Prime Minister. Brexit is a vision of our long term future; a vision of a reinvigorated country, a reformed and reinvented democracy and an open, liberal and global economy. It is a vast undertaking to rebuild our capacity to govern ourselves. We should be excited about it and Therese May, despite having been a remainer, is showing a pleasing level of positivity about the task at hand.
Furthermore, in her restructuring and reshuffling of government she is showing her intent to pursue Brexit proactively. There is no dragging our feet, no reluctance and no attempt to roll back. She has appointed three Brexiteers into key jobs in government. David Davis will be Secretary of State for exiting the EU, Liam Fox gets the International Trade job and Boris Johnson the Foreign Office. They have all been given a huge chance and must now step up. We have now taken one small, but important, first step in the biggest and most important political project since World War II. Leaving the European Union and rebuilding Britain as an independent, self-governing nation state. In appointing prominent Brexiteers our new PM is showing she is serious; the will of the people is to be implemented.
There are some commentators suggesting that this is a wily move because it is the Brexiteers who will have to explain themselves when we inevitably have to make compromises and realise that many of our aims will take longer to achieve then stated; I think there is an element of truth in that. Brexit is a long and complex process and we cannot disentangle ourselves from forty years of integration in a mere two years. Throughout the referendum campaign there was a tendency to greatly over simplify the process of leaving and the potential difficulties and pitfalls in forging a new relationship and making our own way in the world. Now it is serious. Now it is very real.
Our trading relationship is vastly complex enough, but our relationship goes way beyond trade; we’re part of a political and judicial union and we cooperate over a very wide range of matters and every aspect of our relationship will need looking at. This is forty years of constitutional, legal, political and economic integration we are talking about here. Negotiating a future relationship will be complex and we are likely to retain many elements of our current relations either because they are mutually beneficial or because we need to facilitate negotiations and defer some matters for a later date. Many joint programmes will continue and we will have many contractual obligations that we will still need to fulfil. We are looking at a process of continual evolution over the next decade or so.
Regarding trade, the Single Market is a common regulatory area which has closely integrated our economies; greatly simplifying trade. This cannot easily be replicated by a Free Trade Agreement; any such agreement will be complex, comprehensive and very difficult to negotiate. The EU has never concluded a trade agreement in under four years and ours could indeed take longer. There is so much at stake for the economies of the UK and Europe that an agreement is in everyone’s interest – there is a deal to be done, most certainly – but we will likely have to move into a transitional arrangement (such as the EEA) as an interim solution to allow trade and business continuity. It is the Brexiteers in government that will have to explain this to the country, not Theresa.
I do not however believe in the more cynical view that she has a dastardly plan to see Brexit mishandled so she can keep us in the EU and blame Leavers; this is somewhat conspiratorial and would be a severe act of self harm to the Prime Minister, her government and the Conservative Party. I think these appointments were a statement of intent and they are most welcome.
If you think about it, what better place in history could there be for our second female Prime Minister then to have successfully led Britain into national independence and managed our transition from the EU , paving the way for our future prosperity and happiness as a nation?
Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty