Wednesday 21 February 2018

Iron Lady Mark II? Canonisation of Theresa May is off the mark

Before comparing Theresa May to Margaret Thatcher, listen to what the original had to say about the single market

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Photo: PA Wire
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Photo: PA Wire
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

When she took office last July, Theresa May had little choice but to opt out of the EU's single market. With Tuesday's speech at Lancaster House in London, she despatched any practical prospect that the UK can remain in the customs union either. She may have been, as some critics allege, a closet Brexiteer all along, but the more charitable explanation is that she is a student of Talleyrand.

The French diplomat and architect of the settlement at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 advised that: "The art of statesmanship is to foresee the inevitable and to expedite its occurrence." Mrs May has been getting everyone comfortable with the ineluctable consequences of what 52pc voted for on June 23 last year.

The UK cannot control immigration from the EU while remaining in the single market. Nor can the UK remain in the customs union while pursuing new trade deals with the whole wide world.

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