The following is an adapted version of my 'Brexit at Noon' bulletin sent to Freedom Association members today. These bulletins are sent out to members every day apart from Sundays. One of many benefits of being a member of The Freedom Association. Click here to find out more.
Anyone who has been following Brexit closely will not have been surprised that the EU rejected Theresa May's Chequers plan. The EU had already told her it was unacceptable. But perhaps what was surprising was the brutality of it all, with Pres. Macron sticking the boot in at the end.
Theresa May is a stubborn woman who refuses to admit defeat. Cabinet ministers have taken to the airwaves saying that Chequers is not dead. This is the EU playing hardball. We are coming to the end of negotiations - this is to be expected. The anger Theresa May showed during her press conference in Salzburg yesterday (she was visibly shaking) highlights that the Government was not expecting the EU's reaction. It couldn't have gone any worse.
The Irish backstop is an inflated problem. For a fuller understanding, listen to this Brexit Central podcast with Lee Reynolds, the DUP's Director of Policy. There are relatively easy ways around this issue. The UK does not have to endure BRINO to resolve it.
Whilst you are at it, do read David Davis's speech to the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Munich. This is how he ended his speech:
"All we are asking for is a deal similar to those agreed with Canada, South Korea and Japan. As Europe’s largest trading partner, and its strongest and most active ally, this is surely not unreasonable.
"We are standing on the brink of history and future generations will judge the decisions we make in the coming months. My hope is that all sides will reach out and grasp the historic opportunity for a groundbreaking free trade deal; a deal that delivers security, higher living standards and a secure future to our great nations. And a deal that allows us to cooperate, while forging our own separate paths in the world.
"So be in no doubt – if we get this right – the best days of our friendship lie ahead".
There is a way forward, but Theresa May stubbornly (for the time being) refuses to put a foot in its direction. She needs to ditch Olly Robbins, and whilst she is at it, as Andrea Jenkyns said in the Telegraph yesterday, sack Philip Hammond. She needs to embrace Brexit and treat it as the remarkable opportunity it is - rather than treating it as a damage limitation exercise. She needs to stop obsessing about the Irish border issue. There are sensible, practical solutions, and she needs to be reminded that the Common Travel Area was in place long before we became members of the EU. And she needs to fight for a fair Canada-style free trade agreement.
In the coming days we will see just how stubborn she is. Perhaps her desire to remain in Number Ten will make her flexible. Perhaps it will not. We will have to wait and see.
Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns
Photo Credit: Firebrace