There is no doubt that this morning’s speech by the British Prime Minister was the most significant yet of her premiership. A lot of predictable intention was expressed in terms of trading with everybody but leaving the customs union and the UK taking control of migration while maintaining a common travel area between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. (How this latter point can be achieved while avoiding an Irish “back door” and restricting movement from the rest of the EU is open to conjecture).
Brexit stakeholders had been asking for clarity, but this speech, while being high on asserting the right to UK sovereignty, went only partially towards meeting that request.
One certainty is that the UK parliament will get the opportunity to vote on Brexit. However, given the ongoing court case, an unforeseen election in Northern Ireland and a persistent Scottish Nationalist Party, there will be a few twists in this internal UK process yet.
Movement of EU and other nationals into the UK will survive the UK re-taking control of immigration, but will be limited to admitting the “best and the brightest”
Another factor is that businesses trading to and from the UK now have a degree of certainty given there is s clear government decision to leave the single market. It was also good day for UK banks and the financial sector generally as well as for global UK exporters. Less so if you happen to work for a highly mobile industry dependent on EU markets.
But watching Mrs. May’s confident presentation of national self-assertion, there must be genuine fear in the corridors of Brussels that elections later this year elsewhere in the EU will precipitate a domino affect of similar sentiment. If negotiations between London and Brussels stake place against this backdrop, the latter will be in a more vulnerable position.
Clearly the devil will be in the detail when it comes to the target 2 year negotiation once parliament votes and the EU treaty’s Article 50 is triggered.