Cicero Brex-o-meter: Dial moves definitively to ‘Softened Conservative Manifesto’

The Conservatives have now entirely abandoned elements of their pre-election positioning on Brexit. The Official Position therefore moves definitively to ‘Softened Conservative Manifesto’. Whilst the destination appears the same, the journey will be much different. Philip Hammond’s focus on transition, emollient words on EU migration post-Brexit from Amber Rudd and the rejection of the ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ rhetoric means the Lancaster House approach is history.

The UK is moving towards a pragmatic (if somewhat controversial) compromise on Phase 1 in order to secure progress to Phase 2. Any transitional or ‘implementation’ period would require the continuing recognition of the ECJ and almost certainly some form of financial contribution. The UK has confirmed it will pay an exit bill, though how much is a vexed issue at this stage. Labour’s deeply ambivalent position on Brexit was barely clarified by Keir Starmer earlier this week. In practice Labour’s position does not appear to be a million miles away from the Government’s.

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John Rowland

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