Don’t bank on more clarity on Brexit after the June 8 election, says a leading political commentator. Ian Taylor reports
Prime minister Theresa May wants “a massive endorsement” from voters in the June 8 general election, but there is a risk the “genuine animosity” between the UK and the EU in coming Brexit talks could “blow things up”.
That is the view of Peter Foster, Europe editor of The Daily Telegraph, who was announced this week as a headline speaker at Abta’s Travel Convention in October.
Foster told Travel Weekly: “May didn’t want the uncertainty [of an election], but it’s difficult to make compromises [with the EU] with a [Parliamentary] majority of 12. She wants a bigger majority so she can ignore the Remoaners on one side and the hard-line Brexiters on the other.
“If she gets [it] she will treat it as a massive endorsement of a hard Brexit. She will argue ‘You can no longer say it is not clear what people want’.”
By the time of the convention in October, Foster warned: “We may have had a breakdown in negotiations or the UK may have shown enough and we’ll be looking to move to the next stage.”
He said: “Britain is not without cards to play. Money is one – we’ll leave a €10 billion-a-year hole in the EU budget. It’s a headache we can remove if we agree to contribute [to the EU] up to 2020.
“Security is another, although we need to be careful not to overplay this. Britain is an important member of Nato and of [EU law enforcement agency] Europol. We played an important role in managing the migrant crisis. The EU will resent an explicit trade-off [on security], but they don’t want us in the arms of the Americans.”
Foster said: “If May gets a deal on money, it could be it all gets done. But there could also be a huge stand-off.”
He warned: “There is politics on both sides. The big unknown is that, beyond some broad statements by May, we don’t know what Britain is seriously proposing. It sounds like we want to play on the [EU] field but not abide by the referee.
“There are stacks of proposals in Whitehall, but they have not put anything on the table. The Europeans have. We know their red lines.
“May keeps her cards close to her chest. She is very cautious. She doesn’t want to tie her hands. The danger is this builds tension and uncertainty. There is genuine animosity on both sides. The problem is our interests and EU interests are no longer bound together. They fear we’ll end up unscarred by Brexit. They want as much as possible to tie Britain’s hands.
“There is real frustration and anger. You can see that taking over on both sides and the whole thing boiling over.”
Foster will address the convention on ‘The changing political landscape’ on the opening day. He will join speakers including Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald and moderator and ITV news anchor Chris Ship. Azores Airlines is offering special return fares from Gatwick.
The Travel Convention takes place on October 9-11 in Porto Delgado, the Azores.
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