Saturday 20 October 2018

Colm McCarthy: Fudge and waffle now off the menu as May stumbles into crisis

The EU looks to have had its fill of Brexit can-kicking after reality bit for the UK at the Salzburg summit, writes Colm McCarthy

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to make a statement on Brexit negotiations with the European Union at Number 10 Downing Street on September 21, 2018 in London. Photo: Getty Images
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to make a statement on Brexit negotiations with the European Union at Number 10 Downing Street on September 21, 2018 in London. Photo: Getty Images
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

In the lead-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum, Michael Gove, then a principal voice of the Leave campaign and now a senior UK cabinet minister, stated: "The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want."

In its campaign leaflet, Vote Leave assured voters: "We will carry on being part of the free trade zone that stretches from Iceland to the Russian border." Also prior to the vote, the Brexiteer MP Douglas Carswell opined: "I think we could very easily get a better trade deal than we have at the moment."

There was more reassurance in the days after the Leave campaign's referendum victory. Liam Fox, the current trade secretary, predicted: "The free trade agreement that we will do with the EU should be one of the easiest in human history." His then cabinet colleague David Davis in October of 2016 was equally ebullient: "There will be no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside." Early in 2017 the Brexiteer MEP Gerard Batten added a homely note: "Trade relations with the EU could be sorted out in an afternoon over a cup of tea."

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