Once this idiotic willy-waving over Gibraltar is over (The Sun: “UP YOURS SENORS“, without so much as a comma or a virgulilla), we can hope that Theresa May and her subordinates get down to actual negotiation with the EU. (It’s ironic that at a time when all the principals are arguing about whose Brexit is biggest and hardest, what we really need is someone to lie back and think of England.)
What should be May aiming for in the negotiations? Here are the important things as I see them:
- She must secure the rights of UK citizens in the EU, and of EU citizens in the UK, to live securely in their adopted countries — apart from anything else, to halt the haemorrhage of NHS doctors and nurses.
- We must obviously stay in the Single Market: it’s now apparent that the consequences of leaving would be catastrophic for British manufacturing, financial services, etc.
- Ditto the customs union.
- But there must be no pressure on the UK to join the Euro, now or in future.
- The UK’s Parliament must remain sovereign in the UK.
- The UK must be able to perform passport checks at our borders, and to refuse entry to known criminals.
- The UK must retain full access to security co-operation with the EU members.
- May must ensure that the UK is still able to attract immigrants — not only for the NHS, but also on farms (as Andrea Leadsom has promised), in house building (as Sajid Javid has explained), in service industries, etc.
- Ideally, the UK should retain some role in making EU policy.
Finally, here are a few things that are less important, but which mean a lot to some Leave voters, and which May should try to get on their behalf:
- The UK should have a veto on Turkey joining the EU.
- The UK should have the right to traditional navy blue passports instead of burgundy ones.
- UK shops should have the right to stock bendy bananas.
- UK shopkeepers should have the right to list imperial measurements alongside metric.
I know it’s a tall order for May to get all these concessions from the EU, but I am convinced she can find a way.
[Read on to the punchline, if you didn’t already get it.]