Leader comment: Theresa May must be more open on Brexit strategy

Theresa May has refused to commit to giving MPs a vote on her Brexit strategy before triggering the process of leaving the European Union. Picture; Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Theresa May has refused to commit to giving MPs a vote on her Brexit strategy before triggering the process of leaving the European Union. Picture; Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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Jeremy Corbyn accused the Prime Minister of heading towards a “shambolic Tory Brexit” during a particularly fiery session of Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

For once, the Labour leader’s comments appear to be more than just political rhetoric.

The result of the EU referendum is certain but the path that the UK should now take remains unclear.

Theresa May insists that she wants to negotiate a deal where Britain has “maximum possible access” to the single market.

She also says that she wants to control immigration.

Let’s not forget that International Trade secretary Liam Fox also told the Tory party conference that they want to be a fully independent member of the World Trade Organisation.

All of this indicates a move towards a so-called hard Brexit, where the UK refuses to compromise on limiting the free movement of people while seeking to remain part of the single market.

However it is clear that EU leaders are determined not to let Mrs May have her cake and eat it, prompting serious concerns about what her plans really are.

It makes sense that the Prime Minister is playing her cards close to her chest ahead of negotiations, as who would want the opposition to see their hand before they can make the first move?

This is a tough game with high stakes and she is trying to play by her own rules.

Unfortunately for Mrs May, the markets are not buying it.

The pound lost one per cent of its value during the House of Commons debate on leaving the EU yesterday, slumping to its lowest point when Brexit Secretary David Davis gave a speech where he refused to lay out details of the UK government’s negotiation plans.

The pound rallied after Mrs May allowed her backbenchers to support a Labour motion calling for a full debate on the Brexit plan but the short-term boost is unlikely to continue, as she refused to commit to a vote on her Brexit strategy.

Since the referendum in June, the pound has lost 18 per cent of its value against the dollar, a greater fall than during the 2008 financial crisis.

The fear is that a hard brexit will have an even more devastating impact on the value of the pound. Analysts warn that all of the uncertainty around Brexit will mean the pound continues to be volatile, whereas a debate in parliament could assuage some of the fears around the negative economic impact of Brexit.

All of this while the powder is still dry in the Article 50 starting gun, promising a further two years of negotiations when it is triggered next year.

It is time for the Prime Minister to think again about what she is achieving through maintaining secrecy during this process, and be clearer on the overarching aims of her strategy.

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