The much-anticipated speech in Florence by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, on the U.K’s position for withdrawal from the European Union (or Brexit) is underway. Not only will this speech be the “official” line for the leading Conservative party, but it will also shape the negotiations with the other 27 E.U. nations.
She began by saying that the U.K. is “a proud member of the family of European nations,” and that the success of the European Union is “profoundly in our national interest.” She continued:
“While the U.K.’s departure from the E.U. is inevitably a difficult process, it is in all of our interests for our negotiations to succeed … so I believe we share a profound sense of responsibility to make this change work smoothly and sensibly, not just for people today but for the next generation who will inherit the world we leave them.”
Theresa May then stressed that although the U.K. is seeking to become a strong Global trading partner, there would still be cooperation on areas of international accord and that the Britain is “not leaving Europe, “ making the point that the country remains a European nation even outside of the European Union.
She goes on to say that Britain has never been “comfortable” within the E.U. and that while “pooling sovereignty can bring great benefits” it involves going along with decisions that you may not agree with, and this is why the British people have voted to leave.
Regarding the potential border controls between Northern Ireland (which is part of the U.K.) and Ireland, there will be no “hard border” and that the Good Friday agreement would remain in place.
On the rights of E.U. nationals within the U.K., it appears that she has made a decision that will not be popular with those who demand supremacy of U.K. courts and institutions.
She says that her government will seek to protect the rights of E.U. citizens and will take into account rulings by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that may impact these residents. This is sure to anger Brexiteers as it means that a foreign court will, at times, have dominance over British courts. She elaborates that a new mechanism for settling arbitration must be put in place:
“I’m clear the guarantee I’m giving on your rights is real, and I doubt anyone with real experience of the U.K. would doubt the independence of our courts or of the rigour with which they will uphold people’s legal rights.
I want to incorporate our agreement fully into U.K. law and make sure U.K. courts can refer directly to it.
When there is uncertainty around underlying E.U. law, I want the U.K. courts to be able to take into account the judgment in the European court of justice with a view to ensuring consistent interpretation. On this basis, I hope our teams can reach firm agreement quickly.”
Staying in the Single Market
About trade relations, she says that neither the EEA (or Norway model as it is known) nor the Canadian trade arrangement is suitable for the United Kingdom and that all sides will need to be “more creative.”
And here is the largest concession so far, she says that although the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union as planned on March 19th, 2019, she wants the U.K. to stay under E.U. law for a further two years in what is being called a “transitional arrangement.” For almost everyone on the Brexit side, this is completely unacceptable. Under this transitional period, the U.K. would retain the laws of the Brussels parliament and E.U. citizens would still have Freedom of Movement. These were the main pillars of the Brexit argument.
She ended by saying that Britain would continue to pay into the E.U. Budget until 2020 (presumably at the present rate of over 12 billion GBP net per year).
A Betrayal of Brexit
This speech will have made the Remainers and the E.U. Commission very happy; but for those who campaigned and voted for Brexit, it will likely be considered a betrayal of the referendum.
The man most responsible for securing the right to have a referendum and for actually winning the vote, Nigel Farage, was pessimistic before the Prime Ministers speech. Just three hours before Mrs. May began; he spoke to the Daily Politics show and predicted almost exactly what was going to happen.
Today is a victory for Westminster and the political class. They are giving a big two fingers-up to 17.4m people. pic.twitter.com/KLLv7rliJC
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 22, 2017
This is a clear betrayal of Brexit by the insider elites. It is an affront to the 17.4 million people who voted to take back their sovereignty and independence.