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Is UK heading for a hard Brexit?

Sunday October 2, Prime Minister Theresa May told the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham that the begin of the formal Brexit negotiation process will not be later than the end of March next year

By: N. Peter Kramer - Posted: Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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by N. Peter Kramer

Her speech was clear and ended many of the speculations. May said for instance: ‘It is not going to be a Norway model. It is not going a Switzerland model. It is going to be an agreement between an independent, sovereign United Kingdom and the European Union’.  

To underline her statement, she promised a ‘Great Repeal Bill’ to remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and enshrine all existing EU law into British law. The bill will enable the British Parliament to amend and cancel any unwanted legislation and also end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK. But May added: ‘Existing workers’ legal rights will continue to be guaranteed in law, and they will be guaranteed as long as I am prime minister’. 

Insiders think that Mrs May’s speech indicates that the UK is heading for a hard Brexit. She appears to have sided with hardliners as Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox and let in the cold for instance the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. 

The start of the talks, after the UK triggers art. 50 in March, will be right in the middle of the French and German election campaigns, making a hard Brexit likely. On the other hand, a period of two year is foreseen for the negotiations. The chosen date for triggering the negotiations is an internal UK political choice; the next elections in Great Britain are planned for 2020. That gives prime minister May several months to ‘sell’ the deal to her Party and to the British voters!  

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