Brexit Bulletin, 5 October 2018

Oct 03, 2018

Dancing onto the stage and poking fun at the persistent cough and falling wall art that plagued her at last year’s Tory Conference, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday that while a no deal would be a bad outcome for both the UK and EU, the UK is not afraid to leave the EU without an agreement.

Dancing queen

In possibly the most important speech of her political career, Mrs May jived onto the stage to an ABBA favourite, declared that “austerity is over” after eight years of tax increases and spending cuts and vowed to scrap the cap on council borrowing to fix the housing market. 

As expected, Brexit underpinned many aspects of the speech, with the Prime Minister warning that splits over Brexit risked derailing the UK’s departure from the EU.  Interestingly, the UK leader did not namecheck the Chequers proposals during her hour-long speech, instead referring to the UK’s vision of a free trade agreement with the EU, which would allow frictionless trade in goods.  Mrs May reiterated that a no-deal Brexit would be a bad outcome for both sides and said that the introduction of tariffs and checks at the borders would be “hard”.  Although repeating the mantra that the UK will not accept a border in the Irish Sea, the speech offered no vision on how to overcome the issue of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The Tory leader said that at this stage in the negotiations the UK needs to hold its nerve; many livelihoods depend on a strong Brexit and in her opinion, the UK has everything it needs to succeed.

An earlier speech by former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson challenged Mrs May’s Chequers plans, saying the proposals would humiliate the UK.  Boris Johnson’s attack on the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan received a thunderous applause.

Despite ongoing speculation about her future as UK Prime Minister and with only a few weeks left to reach a Brexit deal, the UK leader appeared to be sticking to her guns about her Brexit plans.  "If we stick together and hold our nerve, I know we can get a deal that delivers for Britain," she said.

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