Theresa May’s hard Brexit is risking British unity

Devolved assemblies will not go quietly out of the EU


In her speech tomorrow in which she is set to outline a hard Brexit strategy in all but name, Theresa May is expected to call on all sides to come together in a spirit of unity. What she is unlikely to do however is to do anything to make that a reality.

As she delivers her speech the Prime Minister will begin to understand that saying something does not make it happen, and that the proof of the pudding is ultimately in the eating.

With Chancellor Philip Hammond now also warning that any difficulties to entering the single market after Brexit could result in the UK reforming itself into a Singapore-style low tax, low employment regulation country, the divisions across the nations are fast becoming apparent.

Tweeting over the weekend, Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon declared:

The Prime Minister’s speech will coincide with a debate in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow on the Scottish government’s paper on Brexit. It is a debate likely to cause some difficult for the Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson.

Faced with the prospect of a hard Brexit being pursued by Number 10, the Scottish government’s Minister for Brexit, Mike Russell has retweeted an interview with Ms Davidson in July, after the EU referendum in which she declared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show for Scotland:

“I want to stay in the single market…even if a consequence of that is maintaining free movement of labour.”

In Wales meanwhile, Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards, took to the Sunday Politics show there to declare:

“the reality of what we’re going to hear from [Theresa May] on Tuesday, it’s going to be the greatest job-killing act in Welsh economic history, probably in British economic history.”

For Labour, Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens argued that ‘yet again it looks like the Tories are sacrificing the best interests of Wales to satisfy the right-wingers in her party’.

Concerns have also been raised that the views of Northern Ireland could end up being side lined as a result of the imminent elections to the Assembly following the collapse of the power sharing executive.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has warned that it could be illegal for the government to trigger Article 50 to begin Brexit in the absence of functioning institutions here.

He has argued that ‘until the imminent verdict of the Supreme Court in London, there remains a major question mark over the legality of that statement’.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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