6 leaks since October offer insight into May’s Brexit

by Charlie Mitchell | 15.11.2016

Theresa May has been unequivocal that “the government must not show its hand” as it prepares for Brexit negotiations with EU member states. That may be because she has no plan, as a memo leaked to today’s Times asserts. Be that as it may, a series of leaks give some glimpses of what her government is up to – even if that is far inferior to a proper statement of policy. Here are six of the best.

1. The memo published in today’s Times says that the government has no Brexit plan and hence needs six months to decide its priorities and up to 30,000 new civil servants. The memo provides a window into a disorganised and divided government.

2. In late October an audio recording of a talk given by Theresa May was leaked. Addressing investment bankers at Goldman Sachs a month before the referendum, May said that “being part of a 500-million trading bloc is significant for us”, and that Britain’s economy and security would be best served by remaining in Europe. May offered modest support for Remain before the referendum, but now appears to favour a hard Brexit, prioritising immigration curbs over single market access.

3. Cabinet documents leaked in October stated that chancellor Philip Hammond was blocking International Trade secretary Liam Fox’s attempts to pull Britain out of the single market and customs union. Hammond’s view that students should not be included in net migration figures was also leaked, and quickly refuted by May.

4. Arch-Brexiter Boris Johnson was left red-faced in October after the publication of an article, penned by him on February 19th, setting out arguments for remaining in the EU. Johnson – who went on to advocate leaving the single market – subsequently faced criticism that he had supported Brexit to advance his own career.

5. A confidential Irish government memo, published yesterday by The Irish Times, gave details of a meeting between Mary Mitchell O’Connor – Irish minister for Jobs – and Liam Fox, during which Fox said the EU would have to compensate countries like South Korea if the UK leave the single market, and thus it should offer the UK restrictions on free movement. Fox had previously indicated that the UK would leave the single market.

6. Treasury papers leaked in October warned that £66bn a year in tax revenues could be lost under a “hard Brexit”, causing GDP to fall by up to 9.5%. The figures were presented to ministers before cabinet committee discussions, but the forecasts were taken from a Treasury study published in April. The leak highlighted Hammond’s struggle with hard Brexiters Liam Fox, David Davis and Boris Johnson against a clean break from the EU.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

One Response to “6 leaks since October offer insight into May’s Brexit”

  • Reading this article makes one wonder exactly which planet these characters are on. The already discredited and weird Liam Fox is obviously missing having his “companion” Werritty at his rear.