Theresa May rallies the pound, channels the demos and steals democracy
Thank f*** for that, then. After much pontificating, Theresa May told everyone she’s sided with the British unwashed and decided to go for Brexit.
There has been much talk of hard Brexit and soft Brexit. Hard Brexit meant Brexit. You said your goodbyes and left. Soft Brexit meant no kind of Brexit it all. You said goodbye and left behind your coat with your phone and keys in the pocket in the hope you’d get a call and another lunch date.
The Pet Shop Boys put it well in their hit West End Girls:
Too many shadows, whispering voices
faces on posters, too many choices
If? When? Why? What?
How much have you got?
Have you got it? Do you get it?
If so, how often?
Which do you choose
a hard or soft option?
(How much do you need?)
So a mere seven months after the British public delivered a clear result in a large popular vote, the Prime Minister vowed to represent the people’s will.
“Brexit: UK to leave single market, says Theresa May,” reports the BBC. The UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”.
Hurrah! She gets it. She doesn’t want it. But she gets it. And she shot from the hip.
Britain wants to remain a good friend and neighbour to Europe. Yet I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path.
That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend.
Britain would not – indeed we could not – accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise – while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached – I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.
All strong and decisive stuff. It echoes the strong and decisive vote. But not everyone is pleased.
LibDem leader Tim Farron says May’s moves represent a “theft of democracy”. He says “business is united” that it wants to be in the single market. All of it, including the business people who voted to leave the EU? Farron says May’s “stitch up” has “ignored the will of the people”. In other words, you 17.4m who voted to leave didn’t really understand what you were voting for. Only the MPs can know what is right for you. What a low view he has of Leave voters, and what an elevated view of his own role.
Farron’s view is odd but no uncommon. Jeremy Corbyn’s view is irrelevant. What is Labour’s plan for Brexit? We don’t know. But when he’s got one, he’ll share it with us. On the morning before May’s speech – one which had been trailed for days – the Guardian wrote:
Corbyn told the MPs the party would have a clear message in response to the prime minister’s speech, saying Labour would fight any attempt to make the UK “a bargain basement economy off the coast of Europe”.
The only worthwhile opposition of May comes from within her own party.
Dan Roberts has news for Guardian readers who hope Brexit will be scuffed and denied.
The first clue to the prime minister’s ongoing need for more cordial relations with Europe in private is her announcement of a second vote in parliament at the end of the process.
The MPs will have a say on the process. But that’s surely a sop to the Remainers who want the courts to block Brexit and stymie the people’s will.
Roberts turns to the money markets:
The pound rose on news of this commitment, after several days in which sterling was perhaps falsely depressed by talk of May promising “clean Brexit”.
Really? The pound rose on news that MPs might scupper Brexit?
Asking MPs to sign off on the terms of the exit deal is a sign not only that the government still hopes there will be a deal to vote on, but that it may yet be rejected by parliament, leading instead to the messiest of departures.
The FT has more:
The promised [parliamentary] vote “appeared to offer some degree of assurance that the deal would have a broad appeal”, says Jane Foley, foreign exchange strategist at Rabobank. “That said, it also provides another element of confusion should the deal not be passed by parliament.”
Will it be messy? No, says the Economist:
So Britain’s economy is in for a rough ride and, though the government will try to smooth it out, the priority is getting the country out of the EU in the most complete and rapid way possible. If the price of this priority is economic pain, then pay Britain must. All of which gives firms some of the certainty they have craved since June 23rd: those fundamentally reliant on continental supply chains or the EU “passport” for financial services, say, now have the green light to plan their total or partial relocation. It also means the Brexit talks will be simpler and perhaps even less fractious than they might have been had Britain tried to “have its cake and eat it”. The country will eat its cake and live with an empty plate afterwards. Brexit really does mean Brexit.
We and the markets like the definite.