“British cluelessness”: Theresa May confirms plan to push Hard Brexit outside single market 

Tories reject calls for calm Soft Brexit as May targets 2019 exit 

THE TORIES HAVE REJECTED calls to keep the closest possible relationship with the European Union after Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the Tory Government will prioritise the powers to reduce immigration over continued trading relationships with the EU. The UK, May said, will therefore have to leave the single market of rules that underline billions in trade of goods and services across the continent. 

“We do not seek membership of the single market. Instead, we seek the greatest possible access to it,” she told a diplomatic gathering in London. 

“By pushing for a hard Brexit, May is making life much more difficult for those who wanted to remain.” Ska Keller

The decision will cause a rupture in relations with the Scottish Government, which has campaigned consistently on single market membership as its top priority over the last six months. 

The prospect of border controls being reimposed on Northern Ireland - which like Scotland voted to remain in the EU - is another significant headache for leaders in London, Dublin, and Belfast. 

May - although pledging to keep an open border on Ireland - also said she wanted the UK to exit aspects of the current customs union, which is important for the open transportation of goods. The constitutional challenge of Brexit, which has already been played out in the Supreme Court case on the triggering of the process, has brought instability to Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

The prime minister tried to smother these concerns by claiming that “our precious union at the heart of everything we do”, adding that devolved nations would be “consulted” as Brexit begins. This included the promise of further devolution to Scotland - although no specifics of this were set out.

“This stance will be especially problematic for Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the majority voted to stay in the EU and we expect to see the devolved administrations given a real voice in the negotiation process.” Ska Keller

Attention now turns to how the Scottish Government, which will meet the Tory Government at the Joint Ministerial Committee on Thursday (19 January).

With the prospect of a Soft Brexit inside the single market ruled out, the Scottish Government proposed ‘Plan B’ of a Soft Brexit for Scotland has still to be officially ruled out. Nicola Sturgeon previously asked for this to be made clear in the letter signalling the triggering of Article 50, which is timetabled to take place before the end of March. 

Some of the early responses to the Brexit proposals from continental Europe were not favourable.

German MP Norbert Rottgen said that the plan for UK-EU tax competition “should be regarded as an expression of British cluelessness”.

Co-president of the Green-EFA group in the European Parliament Ska Keller MEP said Tory Hard Brexit will raise problems for Scotland & Northern Ireland. 

“By pushing for a hard Brexit, May is making life much more difficult for those who wanted to remain. This stance will be especially problematic for Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the majority voted to stay in the EU and we expect to see the devolved administrations given a real voice in the negotiation process,” Keller said. 

Picture courtesy of Democracy Live 

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