Brexit

May doubles down on not having a plan B

BY Robert Peston   /  30 November 2018

In my short interview with the PM, here in Argentina at the G20 summit of leading nations, she told me several things of note.

First she said she would be “very happy to tell President Trump and others that we will have an independent trade policy” – which was a response to my question whether she would tell Trump who is here “to his face” that he was wrong to say her Brexit plan would make it impossible for the US to do a trade deal with the UK.

We will see if she now delivers on that fighting talk.

Second, yet again she offered no plan B at all, for when her deal is voted down by MPs – which is what almost all her MP colleagues expect to happen on 11 December (and see the blog I wrote when I disembarked from her plane earlier this morning for why her refusal to countenance a backup Brexit plan is so perilous for her).

I could not resist asking her the TINA – “there is no alternative” – question. Sorry. I know it is a cliche. But she did not make the slightest attempt to correct me.

In fact she doubled down on it by attacking Labour for working “to frustrate Brexit”. She alleged that Corbyn’s amendment to her Brexit motion was “to try and stop us from doing what people asked us to do which is leave the European Union”.

Her reworked attack on Labour, which will presumably run all the way to the 11 December vote, is that it would keep us in the EU.

Which is not Labour policy. But it is striking that she now appears to accept that if she cannot deliver her negotiated Brexit, the alternative is staying in the EU – NOT a no-deal Brexit (a number of her Cabinet colleagues are completely explicit that no-deal cannot be an option).

Third, when I asked her whether the latest immigration stats – which show immigration from OUTSIDE the EU rising sharply – meant that even her ambition of a significant drop in immigration numbers after Brexit might well be for the birds, she said:

“I have been very clear I want to bring net migration down to sustainable levels”.

Which may sound bland and uncontroversial. But it may matter that she did not repeat her usual mantra of wanting to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands.

Maybe now that she appears to be in a minority of one in her cabinet in clinging to that elusive and much criticised target, she is quietly dropping it.

Robert Peston is ITV Political Editor. This first appeared on Facebook. 

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