Why Theresa May Has Played a Blinder

What with all the new free trade deals in the pipeline for Britain, and the EU’s infamous glacial pace at negotiating anything, as well as the constant economic alarm bells clanging from the crippled economies of the Mediterranean Eurozone (that we have become so used to its little more than a dull hum these days) you would expect the shining lights of London to be guiding even more work our way.

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By Alexandra Phillips l January 26, 2017

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UK PM Theresa May presents her 12-point Brexit plan at Lancaster House in London/Photo: WPA Pool

LONDON-I love to say I told you so. Especially as a political advisor. I wouldn’t be worth my wage if I got these things wrong.

I wrote before Christmas that there was only one route out of the EU, which involved quitting the Single Market in its entirety and making a clean break. The fantastical mooted alternatives of ‘hard Brexit’ or ‘soft Brexit’ are as unfathomable as hot or dry snow.

I have also repeatedly said that Britain held all the cards and could walk away from a deal if Brussels were to block free trade, after all, tariffs under WTO regulation would cost the UK exchequer far less than net EU contributions, were the Government forced to subsidise 6% of businesses that export to the bloc.

“No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”

Well, those were the PM’s exact words as she laid out her overview of Brexit last week. Meanwhile, various MPs and mandarins have been prodding some of the big export manufacturers in Europe, including the car industry, to lobby Brussels hard for an FTA. After all, with Britain as a major export market, what little choice do they have?

After a Christmas period dominated by the futile repetition of the wearisome accusation that Theresa May ‘didn’t have a plan for Brexit’ by almost every Remain politician, the Prime Minister came back in the most spectacular way. She didn’t have ‘a’ plan. She had a twelve-point plan. The plan all Brexiteers had been dreaming of.

Of course, the latest fictional lifeboat for the desperately sinking hopes of EU fanatics is the recent Supreme Court ruling that leaving the EU requires Parliamentary privilege and not simple Royal Assent. So what? MPs have already voted themselves into a corner pre-Christmas by agreeing to trigger Article 50 before March. That’s like agreeing to get a divorce before thrashing out the details. Either way, it’s going to happen. And I am certain the terms will be excellent.

And it seems we on the Brexit side of the debate have a canny instinct about what will come to pass.

Just as we stated during our campaigns, countries are queuing up to sign a free trade deal post Brexit, particularly the Commonwealth. I spend a lot of time in Anglophone Africa, and believe me, there are a large number of business leaders who are salivating at the opportunity to do deals with the UK rather than get engulfed by the quagmire of vindictively obstructive regulation crafted by protectionist-big-business in Brussels.

And what of the mass exodus of panic-stricken multinationals fleeing apocalyptic Britain once we cut adrift from the economic genius of the European Commission and its thriving single currency?
The boss of PWC has said he can’t see why any business would want to quit London.

What with all the new free trade deals in the pipeline for Britain, and the EU’s infamous glacial pace at negotiating anything, as well as the constant economic alarm bells clanging from the crippled economies of the Mediterranean Eurozone (that we have become so used to its little more than a dull hum these days) you would expect the shining lights of London to be guiding even more work our way.

Also, the UK has warned it will compete directly with the EU by undercutting their corporation tax and sucking in more global trade to our shores. Attaboy!

So, are Brexiteers psychics? How could they have been so sure these things were guaranteed?

Of course not!

Instead, think of Remainers as people who find their spouse wants a divorce. First, they were in denial, promising that things can change and the relationship was still so good. Then realising it was looking increasingly inevitable, hit out with threats of all the things the other half will lose, warning them that never again will they have a relationship this good and only loneliness is ahead. Then there are the spiteful remarks on the side to friends, as realisation dawns that the other half is already flirting with Australia and New Zealand despite the papers not even being signed.

The reality is, after divorce, the costs of funding a whole household compared to the batchelor lifestyle mean there’s income to spare and freedom to determine how to spend it.

The sad truth is often the one who decides to make the break for freedom is happier. They do get what they want, because they have made a conscious decision to go it alone. The one left behind may grieve and take a while to adjust, but eventually, they move on and feel much better for doing so acknowledging that perhaps the partnership was incompatible all along.

At the moment, we are still in the bitter post-break-up-phase. The divorce papers haven’t been signed. Brussels wants to keep the house and is threatening the UK with alimony. The UK is happy to just walk away. If you want to be like that, fine. I don’t want to fight but we’re free agents now. Sign the papers. Throw in some tariffs, if you like. We just want out.

Meanwhile mutual friend Switzerland has said they want to be friends with both.

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said: “We want good, maybe even closer ties with Britain. But we will not forge an alliance with Britain against the EU.”

Sorry Britain, we can’t come on your singles weekend. It will upset poor Brussels.

So, perhaps we must be understanding and realise that the emotional outpourings and irrational warnings from the other side are coming from a place of hurt. We’d be hurt too if we were doomed to be trapped inside the failing marriage.

(But we’re not. So, every time a Leaver raises a glass, ‘Cry God for Theresa, England and Farage!’)


Alexandra Phillips is former Head of Media for UKIP, the political party in Britain that campaigned to leave the EU and was aide to its charismatic leader Nigel Farage. She left UKIP after the referendum victory and joined the Conservative Party in order to ensure other big political ambitions are met in the U.K. She is a political advisor and communications consultant in London. Ms. Phillips is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis, of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.

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