Remember how I talked about the leaked plans for the UK government to engage in a sophisticated PR campaign to push PM Theresa May’s deal through, and convince the public it was the right deal? Well, it looks like they’ve started already.
Today, Theresa May gave a speech to the Confederation of British Industry, where she informed business leaders that the withdrawal deal had been “agreed in full.”
Last week the Cabinet agreed the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
We also agreed a draft outline of the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
Both documents were the result of many hours of negotiation between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Together they represent a decisive breakthrough – but they are not the final deal.
We now have an intense week of negotiations ahead of us in the run-up to the special European Council on Sunday.
During that time I expect us to hammer out the full and final details of the framework that will underpin our future relationship and I am confident that we can strike a deal at the council that I can take back to the House of Commons.
The core elements of that deal are already in place.
The Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed in full, subject of course to final agreement being reached on the future framework.
So, make no mistake. She isn’t budging on her deal, but simply intends to hammer out the finer details of the framework that will allow her to make this deal – completely ignoring what seems to be impending doom when the deal actually reaches a vote in the Commons.
What really surprised me, though, is that she did much more than just talk about the perceived “benefits” of her deal.. In a surprising twist, she attempted to appeal to the patriotic, anti-mass-immigration voters by claiming that her draft Brexit withdrawal agreement would stop migrants from the EU “jumping the queue.”
May knows that the voters want immigration to be reduced. She has previously deployed tactics like suggesting her government will “control” immigration, without suggesting that she would reduce the numbers. Now, she’s claiming that her Brexit deal will stop EU nationals jumping the queue, ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi.
But here’s what she gets wrong. People don’t take issue with European migrants because they’re European, or because they’re jumping the queue. Instead, people take issue with immigration generally. The system is completely broken, and many people want to see a reduction in even QUALIFIED immigrants coming to this country. It’s not about race; it’s about jobs, homes, resources, and space.
I doubt, therefore, that her attempt to spin this as a great patriotic victory will work with the public – especially given the fact that her deal maintains freedom of movement until an unspecified date in which the UK and the EU might eventually agree a deal…and even then, the immigration figures won’t have changed much.