I found Theresa May’s Brexit speech last Tuesday deeply depressing. It was clearly a response to those who have demanded more clarity on how she intends to take Britain out of the EU.
It was meant to reassure us that she does have a plan. But when she says that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, it’s clear that she is preparing us for a disorderly departure.
Before she has even entered into negotiations with the EU, May has decided to take the UK out of the single market. In so doing, she has confirmed that Britain is heading for a hard Brexit, with potentially massive damage to the UK economy. Polls show that 90% of voters want to remain part of the single market.
Her speech contained no acknowledgement that any sort of deal will depend on European consent, which may hinge on the forthcoming elections in France, the Netherlands, Germany and possibly Italy.
The good news is May pledged to give parliament a vote on the deal, although Brexit secretary David Davis suggested MPs won’t vote against it. And it’s clear voters will be denied a say on the final deal. I expect any real opposition within parliament to come from Conservative remainers such as Ken Clarke, the Lib Dems and the SNP rather than from Labour.
ITT members voted to stay in the EU as they were concerned Brexit would lead to uncertainty in the markets and a plummeting pound. They were right to be worried. The pound has fallen to its lowest level for more than 30 years and we must remember that Article 50 has not yet been triggered. Heaven knows what will happen if we leave the EU empty handed.
Steven Freudmann F.Inst.T.T. is chairman of the Institute of Travel & Tourism