Mainichi: Plans for Brexit - Nothing is decided yet

Saturday, September 24, 2016


Following the Japanese Government's recent Brexit letter, Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney speaks to Mainichi Newspaper on Brexit and Theresa May's leadership

Contents between Conservative Party members and Current Political Leaders

In July, the Brexit referendum was spearheaded by May, the new government. She is not explicitly stating the when negotiations regarding leaving the EU will start, nor about the negotiation policy. Ben Quinney, a chairman from the Bow Group, a London think tank that has significant influence over policies of the current ruling party, the Conservatives, said the following- “There are going to be clashes between [the new ministries] as to who has the decision-making power over the big questions of Brexit… nobody knows.”

Prime Minister May wishes to highlight controls on migration through a strategy that will maintain the economic merits of accessing the EU single market, without accepting the fundamental EU right of Freedom of Movement. However, EU Member States are opposed to these requests. In her first meeting back from her summer holidays, on the 7th, May was asked about these points by the Opposition MPs, repeating the point that “We will do what’s best for Britain”. She could not reveal any new strategies.

Three Cabinet Ministries – the newly formed Ministry of Exiting the European Union, the Ministry for Foreign Trade, and the Foreign Office, were summed up by Mr Quinney as being in a state of ‘turf war’. He spoke of how it was undecided which Ministry would lead Brexit policy. He also said that he would predict EU negotiations to begin in either January or February of next year, however there is a large possibility of delays.

It could be said that another reason why the government will not reveal their strategy is due to the difference of ideas amongst the main leadership within the Conservative party. Out of the 650 seats of the House of Commons, a majority (329) are held by the Conservative party, over half of whom wished to Remain within the EU. More than the party divide between Remain and Leave supporters, opinions of whether immigration controls or access to the single market should be prioritised is dividing the Leave side. Quinney said – “Even if [May] was to announce a sketchy program for Brexit, it would inevitably annoy a significant political contingent.”

May is not to bringing the issue to parliament, especially regarding her plans about both the withdrawal negotiations and when they will start.  If the numbers of Conservative party members who are dissatisfied with this increases, then the movement for Parliament involvement will grow. Furthermore, if it does become necessary for Parliament to get involved, then this will spur disorder without putting the discussion to rest.

Although Mr Quinney described May’s position as being ‘very fragile’, he explained that she “is not someone who needs someone else to write her speech for her so she knows what’s going on; she understands the situation and she understands the detail of the situation. I think she therefore commands a lot of respect, and has the ability to clearly see the battlefield before her’. He also focus on the question of whether May has the charisma to draw people towards her – “This is the great skill of the politician; if you can make people like you and believe in you, you can get people to vote for you whereas they otherwise would have been more sceptical- whether she can achieve that, I think, is unclear”.