The Express: Theresa May has misled us all

When Theresa May dropped her Social Care plans from the Conservative Party manifesto in the middle of the election campaign last year she announced that “nothing had changed” and the “basic principles” remained in place.

It was not an entirely accurate description of events.

Now, following the Chequers proposals and the White Paper on leaving the European Union, a similar mantra is dutifully recited.

Apparently, we are still taking back control of our laws, money and borders. Yet this is so different a way from that previously set out by the Prime Minister as in truth to mean that we will do no such thing.

In the Mansion House speech, delivered by Mrs May as recently as March 2, 2018, a more consistent vision for Brexit was set out.

Here, the red lines were still intact and while a number of compromises were offered that in an ideal world Brexiteers would not have chosen, the overall package was welcomed by almost everyone in the party and with widespread support in the country.

Since then the Prime Minister has been in headlong retreat but in an oddly secretive manner, so that even key Secretaries of State did not know.

In the Mansion House speech, five tests for the deal were set: The first was that the referendum was a vote to take control of our borders, laws and money.

In the White Paper this test has failed, as the common rule book is misnamed.

It is not common, it is the EU rule book which we will have to follow or face penalties.

As for borders and money the statements in the paper are vague and the proposed arrangements for European immigration sufficiently broad to allow for free movement to continue.

The second test was endurance, that the agreement must last.

If this test were met then the UK would follow the common rule book for decades to come.

On the other hand, were the nation to escape, which is indicated in some of the briefings, then the test is not met.

Hence it is either perpetual vassalage or the test fails.

Next Mrs May wants to protect jobs and security, a noble aim but her means of doing it is wrong.

She wants to bind the nation into the failing economic model of the EU rather than open it to the growth in the rest of the world.

Ninety per cent of future economic growth is expected to come from outside the EU.

The fourth test is in many ways a statement of motherhood and apple pie, it wants us to be a nation of explorers but has less to do with government and more with the spirit of enterprise of the people.

However, it did suggest the UK should be “confident of our own place in the world”.

Alas the White Paper is timorous, fearing that Brussels will not accept a real Brexit and, therefore, lacking the courage to ask for it.

The final test is that it should “strengthen our union of nations and our union of people” yet instead it has infuriated voters across the country who feel their vote to leave is being ignored.

The questions that arise are, why has the Mansion House speech been abandoned and when?

The desire for “a comprehensive system of mutual recognition” gone, the ability to do trade deals restricted and control of our laws surrendered.

The timing is interesting because it must have been some time ago.

White Papers and 120page documents for the Cabinet are not drawn up overnight and there must have been some sleight of hand in this because David Davis’s department did not know.

It was drawing up its own White Paper, one which set out an approach in line with Government policy.

There would have been compromises but Brexit would have been assured in fact as well as name.

This was a waste of time and money because Downing Street was surreptitiously writing its own paper.

This is, at best, an untrusting way to behave and a more severe commentator would call it untrustworthy.

This, sadly, is the heart of the matter – exacerbated by the reported comments by the PM’s chief of staff that the Irish border does not matter so much and that she always wanted a soft Brexit.

The Chequers U-turn, the failure of the Mansion House test and abandonment of “Brexit means Brexit” have broken trust.

It would have been more straightforward to admit that no real Brexit was the intention all along rather than trying to gull Brexiteers.

Perhaps we ought to have realised earlier on that a Remainer would stick with Remain.

To read EFT Adviser Jacob Rees-Mogg’s piece for the Express in full, click here.

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