It will have to comply with EU rules but have no say
Despite a pledge by Theresa May that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and the UK would chart a new course, it seems that Brexit does not mean the type of Brexit Theresa May considered in the early months following the divisive referendum result.
As recently as January, the UK Minister ruled out “partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries.”
But in little over a week since the UK triggered Article 50, the mechanism that sets in motion the actual process of exiting the EU, emerging views from the UK seem to point to a continued association with the EU.
“Brexit means Brexit” has been replaced with a “deep and special partnership”. And this is what the EU has in place already with many neighbouring countries.
IN respect to the Ukraine deal, its agreement, although somewhat controversial within some EU member countries, covers security and foreign policy as well as a deep and comprehensive trade agreement allowing Ukraine tariff-free access to much of the EU single market for goods in return for compliance with EU rules.
But it is the compliance with EU rules that could pose one of the single biggest optical dilemmas for the warring parties of the UK’s ruling Tory Party, some of which are seeking to restore aspects of British colonialism.
In less than a week, Mrs. May has signalled her willingness to bend to reality. She appears to have accepted the EU’s position on parallel negotiations, which the EU has firmly ruled out. More recently, she has also suggested that the free movement of EU citizens will continue for longer than promised during the 2016 referendum. And Mrs. May was quick to row back on what some perceived as veiled threats on broad security cooperation.
For many of the most ardent anti-EU members of the Tory Party, Mrs. May’s shifting positions and acceptance that the power dynamics are shifting in the EU’s favour must serve as a red flag. One of the major sticking points will be the reality that the UK will continue to be subject to EU rules that the UK has no say in crafting.
But for many British nationals, Mrs. May’s shifting position is likely to provide far more long-term benefits than they would have otherwise have enjoyed under an all out departure from the EU.