The European Union in Exile

“I can see a situation where Brexit does not happen,” chirped a somewhat smug Vince Cable as he warned that an “exit from Brexit” may be on the cards whilst on the Andrew Marr show. Perhaps he’s going to be proven right now that the current government has begun to lay down to foundations for a sort of quasi-EU; the European Union in exile, being run from Westminster.

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd – generally considered supporters of the European project – have hinted of a softer Brexit coming about through a transitional arrangement of up to three years where Britain – according to Hammond – will not be free to negotiate its own free trade deals, such as the ‘major trade deal’ that Trump is ‘100 percent certain’ will happen, until at least 2022. Instead, we would remain in the single market for up to seven years after voting to leave it. For better or worse. Will such a move allow us to slowly adapt to life outside the EU without putting too much up for stake? Or will it compromise our position on the world stage and make us less able to sign worldwide free trade deals?

Amber Rudd has also said that EU citizens will be allowed to come and work here after Brexit as long as they register with the home office. Taken at face value that seems like a positive prospect. Hard working Europeans are always welcomed; the men and women who are crucial to our cherished NHS and the next generation of European innovators need to stay and continue to arrive.  However, Britain didn’t vote for freedom of movement through the back door. Britain didn’t vote for another wave of unskilled immigrants to depress wages. Mrs. Rudd – who has said the new rules may look like “a similar arrangement” during the transition period – needs to be careful how she plays this. She must deliver on the will of the people.