4 reasons May could be crazy enough to drive us over a cliff

by Hugo Dixon | 01.05.2017

Theresa May has renewed her threat to quit the EU without a deal after the bloc accused her of being deluded and living in a different galaxy. Her dinner last week with Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, was a train-wreck according to a report in the German press. Although Downing Street says it doesn’t recognise the account of the dinner, the EU hardened its line afterwards as did Germany’s Angela Merkel.

As relations with the EU get more confrontational, the prime minister told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday that no deal is better than a bad deal. Carrying out this threat would be mad. But if she wins a landslide, nobody will be able to stop her driving us all over a cliff. What’s more, there are four reasons why the Brexit talks could easily break down.


The EU wants us to pay about £50 billion when we leave in order to cover our share of liabilities that we have incurred as members. May has done nothing to prepare the public for such a payment. Remember how voters were sold the lie during the referendum that we’d get £350 million EACH WEEK back from the EU. The Brexit press is already foaming at the possibility that we might have to pay out money instead.

EU citizens

The EU’s top priority is to secure full rights for all the 3 million EU citizens now living in the UK. It doesn’t just want them to have the right to stay here – something May could agree to so long as Brits living across the Channel can stay there too. The EU wants all their rights guaranteed for as long as they live, including the ability to bring in family members and receive benefits. When the EU’s position leaked last month, the Tory press was outraged.

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May is still saying she can negotiate both our exit from the EU and a new deal governing our relationship with the bloc in two years. This is fantasy. To avoid falling off a cliff at the end of the two-year negotiating period, we will need a transitional deal. The snag is that the EU will in return expect us to pay into its budget, follow its rules and abide by the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction. These demands will be anathema to hardline Brexiters.

Future deal

Although the detail of a future deal won’t be nailed down in two years, we should be able to sketch out a framework. Once it becomes clear how many of the EU’s benefits we are sacrificing and how many of the costs we are still incurring, May could find it hard to sell.

Of course, the prime minister doesn’t think it will come to all this. She believes brinkmanship will force the EU to back down. But there’s little reason to believe the other 27 will crumble. We need them more than they need us.

May has justified calling a snap election on the grounds that she needs a “strong hand” in the Brexit negotiations. She’s actually demanding a blank cheque that would turn her into an elected dictator. She would then have a strong enough hand to do something really crazy.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

14 Responses to “4 reasons May could be crazy enough to drive us over a cliff”

  • PM Theresa is only described as deluded by Wunkers, Merkez and Hollandaise as they are slowly losing their power grip and potential puffed up pensions. The EU has never been a level playing field for Britain where it has contributed most in every sector. Brexit is thereby a rectification on past errors. Onwards and forwards.

  • What is it about remoaners that they can’t at least accept that not all that comes out of the EU is both truthful and good for Britain. You have all jumped on the bandwagon accepting every word that the drunken negotiator says and making sure that Theresa May is seen in as bad a light as possible. The EU are trying their best to unsettle as many people in Britain as possible in the hope that we will change our minds and you remoaners are jumping on the bandwagon thinking this is another way you can succeed in your plans to block Brexit. You and they will not succeed and the more you push Project Fear the more determined the sensible Brits will be at ensuring that we get out of the EU asap, with or without a deal.

    Just look at the economics of the country since the referendum and accept that you were wrong with all your ‘expert’ predictions of recession and Armageddon and you will be proved wrong again.

    • Katie, there are few people who voted Remain who would say the EU is perfect – far from it. But they would argue it is better to be in it rather than out (clear economic and political benefits, and it’s easier to reform the club as a member rather than an outsider. With respect to a couple of your assertions… Firstly, there is no Project Fear campaign, only an increasing number of people who are genuinely concerned that Brexit is dangerous and folly, not to mention that the referendum process itself was ill-conceived and the campaigns were based on unfounded assertions. Secondly, the economy has held up because (a) Brexit has not yet happened – the train wreck is still in front of us, (b) British consumers have a tendency to over-stretch themselves until it is too late, and (c) the lack of confidence in sterling following the referendum has made our exports more competitive. However, the economic headwinds of crashing out the EU are frightening: decreases in real wages, decrease in productivity (which is already weak), decreases in corporate profits (more expensive imports plus payment of tariffs), an increase in unemployment, increases in public sector borrowing. The latter, of course, then affects tax (up) and spending on welfare, health, education, etc (down). Let’s see how this plays out.

    • Leaving the single market will make us poorer because:
      1. we are heavily dependent on inward investment, which happens because investors get access through us to a 500 million consumer market. Once we are out investment will dry up.
      2. we are heavily dependent for our food supplies on eu imports. with huge tariffs, either we will pay through the nose for the things that are cheap now, or we will be unable to afford them and end up consuming lower quality and dangerous products.
      3. outside the single market customs checks will become far more rigorous, because Doveer/Calais will become an external EU border. Kent will be a lorry park.
      4. the great repeal bill is intended to close the valve that currently allows in EU regulations, but then to allow ministers, with no scrutiny from parliament, to change law at will. this is a feeding frenzy for corporate lobbyists who want to cover the north with fracking wells and the south with GM crops.

  • as a continental living and residing in Ireland for almost 15 years, I’ve got to say that I’m both not so surprised at how easy stupid decisions can be made at the highest levels of decision-making (just like at each levels btw), but also quite happy at the train-wreck that is happening.
    not because I think that I’ll be protected from the fall-out, but because the UK (and England in particular) need a severe reality-check if it is to have any future as a responsible stakeholder in Europe.
    right now, we’ve got another version in the making of spoiler-russia : “treat me like a big country, or else !”

  • The reason May wants secrecy over the ‘negotiations’ is because she doesn’t want us to see how incompetent she is. If there’s nothing to be ashamed of, there’s nothing to hide. (I worked as a successful negotiator for 40 years).

  • Is there no limit to the utter stupidity and arrogance of our politicians. They seem to be enjoying turning our friends into enemies.

  • There are number of glaring errors in this “Facts” article.
    First, the £350 million figure was incorrect. It was quoted as a Gross figure but still wrong. Lie is a strong word and enough of those came out of the remain side; more than compensating for the other. The true figure comes out at about £380 to 400 million NET. They failed to add in Customs duty and VAT payment which the EU skimmes some rather important % . It also excludes the “bonus” applied to growing GDP. This amounted to £1.7 Billion in December 2016. These are variable figures hence the 380 to 400 quote.There will be no need for a transition arrangement. The EU 27 cannot agree a P up in a brewery. 27 states, then minor provinces vying for position on every minor detail, no it will not work. Remaining in a reformed Europe might have been an decent position, however having sen the way the disrespect democracy and have treated southern European states, in particular Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal and the levels of unreformable unemployment, we really need to examine our conscience and ask; particularly as socialists – can we continue to be part of such a despotic elitist club for Europe’s failed and dying politicians to retire into?
    2 Years should not be wasted talking to them, but talking to partners and friends around the world and getting some serious trade deals and partnerships in place – ones that do NOT require political integration and the redistribution of Jobs and wealth by proxy.

  • InFacts finally got trolled by the breximoron brigade … thus far, there had been only a few, but the more reality knock at their door, the more inane (and ubiquitous) they become

  • Max asks “What on earth is wrong with political integration and re-distribution of jobs and wealth?”; the answer is – nothing, unless you are very rich and/or a senior employee of a large multinational. They stand to gain and have played on the fear of the poorly educated and the xenophobia of the Tories. Pity they own or control most of the media.

  • I think she concluded (correctly) a few weeks back that it was not possible to do a deal with the EU that would leave the Tories in power. This election is just a prelude to her walking out of the talks and announcing that we have no option but to go the way of Singapore.

  • Max, you are dead right!
    Moreover, are we content if brexit leads to Scotland leaving the UK, to problems with the Eire/NI border, to [the rump of the UK, ie England and, with luck, Wales] having to rely on our alleged special relationship with the country across the Atlantic whose leader appears to be less than wholly capable?