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Analysis

Theresa May proposes vassal status for key sectors

by Hugo Dixon | 02.03.2018

The prime minister has eaten her words big time in today’s speech. More humiliating flip-flops are to come because her speech won’t wash with MPs or the EU – and doesn’t offer a solution to the Irish border.

Theresa May made great play about how she was being “straight” with the public. She was honest on one key point: that we will have “less” access to the EU’s market in some ways. But she also ducked a straightforward question on whether she thought Brexit was “worth it”. That wasn’t honest.

And she pretended that she wanted to take back control of our laws in virtually the same breath that she said we might pass “identical” laws to those the EU passes. Meanwhile, she proposed we should make “binding commitments” to follow the EU’s competition rules, a hugely important policy area. And she said she wanted our pharma, chemicals and aviation industries to be governed by EU regulators, to whom we’d pay money.

That’s not just doublespeak of the most dishonest kind. It would turn these vital industries into vassal sectors.

May also wants a “close association” with Euratom. Why on earth then did she decide to pull out of the Euratom treaty – turning us into a vassal on nuclear energy too?

The prime minister’s speech is something of an irrelevance since it won’t stick. She can’t get MPs to agree to her plan to pull us out of a customs union with the EU. She can’t get the other 27 countries to agree to her plan to stick to their rules but have the freedom to diverge.

Meanwhile, it’s no good Brexiters complaining that the EU wants to turn Northern Ireland into a vassal province. Our prime minister agreed that was a possibility back in December – and she hasn’t yet come up with a viable alternative.

Why did May even bothering giving her speech, one might ask? Because she’s an expert in dithering, buying time and kicking the can.

She knows she will eventually have to give ground. Just as she did when she agreed a £39bn divorce payment despite saying vast payments to the EU would end. Just as she is doing in her talks to get the EU to agree a transition deal that would turn us into a vassal state for years, despite saying she would take back control of our laws immediately.

The prime minister is a serial flip-flopper. She can’t be trusted to stick to anything she promises. But dithering and delay suit her fine. She stops the Tory party tearing itself to shreds and hangs onto power herself. In fact, she achieves everything except advancing the national interest.

One of May’s five tests for a Brexit deal is that it should bring the country together. She may yet achieve that. We will all be able to agree it’s rotten.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe

5 Responses to “Theresa May proposes vassal status for key sectors”

  • Following Mrs May’s deal with the DUP , I thought that Britain was already a vassal of Northern Ireland.
    Is flip flopping a form of vassalation?

  • Waffle, Waffle,Waffle what a crock of useless drivel , does she think we are six year old ,she is going round and round talking shite and will end up disappearing up her own jacksie, good riddance.

  • Is there something off in the Anglo-American water? Between the congenital moron who presides over the misbegotten United States, and a delusional UK imagining greatness from severing it’s ties to the largest free trading bloc, I’m of a mind that the UK and the USA are in a fight to the death to determine who’s the most self-destructive nation.

  • May’s speech was a climax of negotiations with the EU. She was putting the record straight on areas where the negotiations may have stalled. It was really not for domestic use. The writer to take note.