Tom Goodenough

Theresa May must stop presenting Britain as the supplicant in Brexit talks

Theresa May must stop presenting Britain as the supplicant in Brexit talks
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Theresa May is on her way back from China, but those hoping the Prime Minister has turned over a new leaf on her trip will be disappointed. Formal talks will soon begin on the implementation – or transition period, yet all the signs are that the Government is continuing to prevaricate on spelling out what it really wants from Brexit. Instead of setting out any kind of grand vision, the PM opts instead to take baby steps on the long road towards Britain’s departure from the EU.

During her interview on the Today programme just now, May kept up this approach and again refused to spell out much in the way of detail. The PM was challenged by the BBC’s Laura Kueenssberg to ‘come clean on what you really want’. Unsurprisingly, she dodged the opportunity to do just that:

‘We also want to ensure we can trade across borders. We are at the start of a negotiation. at the end of that negotiation, a deal will be presented to parliament and parliament will have a meaningful vote…’

May also fell back on worn-out cliches: ‘I am not a quitter’, she said when asked about whether she would stay and fight another general election. ‘I am in this because there is a job to be done’, she went on to say, before concluding with the somewhat fatuous line: ‘Global Britain is a real vision for the United Kingdom.’

Perhaps most worrying though wasn’t the blandness of what May said but her obvious willingness to present Britain as the supplicant in Brexit talks:

‘In seven weeks’ time we will have an agreement with the EU – that is the timetable they have set – on the implementation period. There won’t be a final decision on what the future relationship will be…the EU will set out the outlines for that negotiation.’

The PM’s approach seems to be to allow the EU to take complete charge of talks – hardly the attitude of a Government seeking to seize the opportunities presented by Brexit. Tory MP Johnny Mercer, who appeared on the program immediately after the PM, spoke for more people than just himself when he said: ‘We need to see more vision’. How much longer can the PM keep up the Maybot act on Brexit?