Bradshaw – May’s A50 letter shows Government have botched Brexit negotiations

The Government has made progress on none of the principles Theresa May set out in her letter triggering Article 50, research by Open Britain has revealed, as she and David Davis travelled to Brussels in an attempt to achieve progress in the negotiations before the European Council summit later this week.

In her Article 50 letter, the Prime Minister outlined seven principles “to hope to make sure that that the process is as smooth and successful as possible.” However, Open Britain today demonstrates that the Government has failed to stick to any of these principles in the negotiations so far.

For example, Theresa May said “we should engage with one another constructively and respectfully” – shortly before accusing the EU of interfering in the General Election. She called for rapid progress to be made on Ireland and citizens’ rights, while no deal has been agreed on either of these subjects. And she called for talks on the UK’s future relationship with the EU to take place concurrently with talks on withdrawal issues – but the Government then quickly conceded this will not happen. 

The revelation comes days before the European Council meeting where the Government originally hoped that talks would progress from withdrawal issues to trade. However, this now appears highly unlikely, with European Commission negotiator Michel Barnier saying the talks are in “deadlock.”

Commenting, Ben Bradshaw MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:

“Nothing shows how badly the Government have botched the Brexit negotiations than a look back at Theresa May’s letter triggering Article 50. 

“From hoping for a constructive atmosphere, the talks have crashed into acrimony – much of it the fault of the UK Government.

“We still have no deal on the withdrawal issues, the Government caved into the EU’s demands on the timing of talks, and uncertainty is damaging our economy.

“It’s clear the form of Brexit sold to the British people in the referendum is becoming impossible to deliver. Ministers must change course and ditch their plan for an extreme and destructive hard Brexit.


Notes to editors:

This story is reported in the Huffington Post:

Theresa May’s Article 50 letter is here:

Theresa May’s 7 Brexit principles:

Principle 1:

“We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in “a spirit of sincere cooperation. 

The reality:

Theresa May has said that the EU and the European press tried to influence the result of the UK general election with “threats” and “misrepresentation.”

Boris Johnson announced in the House of Commons that European leaders can “go whistle” with regard to the UK paying a high settlement to Brussels.

Principle 2:

“We should always put our citizens first…There are, for example, many citizens of the remaining member states living in the United Kingdom, and UK citizens living elsewhere in the European Union, and we should aim to strike an early agreement about their rights.”

The reality: 

No deal has yet been done on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and Theresa May has repeatedly refused to guarantee their rights.

Principle 3:

“We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement…We believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.”

The reality: 

In June 2017 David Davis abandoned attempts to force the EU to begin talks on a future trade deal imedaitely and conceded that the UK’s exit bill must come first. (The Guardian

Principle 4:

“We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible.”

The reality:

Brexit related uncertainty has been blamed for inflation reaching 2.9%, raising concerns about the cost of living and wage stagnation. Consumer spending has dropped to 0.3% as of September 2017, while the OBR directly blamed Brexit-related uncertainty for a £900 million shortfall in tax receipts.

Principle 5:

“In particular, we must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland.”

The reality:

No deal has yet been agreed on preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Politicians in the Republic of Ireland believe this may be impossible.

Principle 6:

“We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges.” 

The reality:

Technical talks on the future UK-EU relationship have not yet begun because of lack of progress on withdrawal issues. In August 2017, Michel Barnier stated that, “no decisive progress on any of the principal subjects” has been made” in his talks with David Davis. The Prime Minister and Brexit Secretary have repeatedly called for the EU to come up with “imaginative” solutions to major issues such as the Northern Ireland border, but the Government’s own position papers on customs and other technical issues have been woefully lacking in detail or solutions, and have been heavily criticised both in the UK and in Brussels

Principle 7:

“We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values.” 

The reality:

The Home Office has sent up to 1,000 deportation letters to EU citizens, demanding that they leave the UK immediately or face removal – hardly an example of adhering to European values.