Briefing: Theresa May's Mansion House speech


Today, Theresa May delivered a speech at Mansion House in London on her plans for a future UK-EU relationship. A link to this speech can be found here. The speech focused on five tests the Prime Minister said must be met as part of any Brexit deal:

  1. Respecting the referendum
  2. Being an agreement that endures
  3. Protecting jobs and security
  4. Being consistent with being an open, outward-looking European democracy
  5. Strengthening the Union


Open Britain Top Lines

  • Theresa May and her Government have already undermined all five of the tests she set out through their words and actions since the referendum, where today’s speech contained yet more vacuous slogans, more meaningless sound-bites and yet more attempts to both “have her cake and eat it.”
  • The Prime Minister accepted that we cannot have the ‘exact same benefits’ as we have now, as her Government has previously promised. If she really intends to meet her own test of “protecting jobs” she must reverse her position of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, which her Government’s own analysis shows will severely damage our economy.
  • Once again, the Prime Minister wasn’t able to provide any credible solutions for avoiding avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
  • The Prime Minister said she wanted to present some ‘hard truths’: what we got was a list of reasons why Brexit is much more complicated, much more difficult and much more costly than anyone could have known about during the referendum.
  • With this in mind, everyone is entitled to keep an open mind about whether Brexit is the right path for the country.


Theresa May’s Five Tests

1. ‘Respecting the referendum’

Theresa May does not have a mandate for the hard and destructive Brexit that she is pursuing. She put her plan for leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, to the country in a General Election last year – and she lost her majority. The public comprehensively rejected her Brexit plan. It is clear that she does not have the consent of the British people to crash the economy and weaken our country.


2. ‘An agreement that endures’

Theresa May says she wants a Brexit agreement that ‘endures’. But she has done more than anyone to undermine goodwill in the negotiations by repeatedly insisting that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’[1], and by threatening to cease security cooperation with the EU if they don’t give her everything she wants from a trade deal.[2]


3. ‘Protecting jobs and security’

Theresa May said she wants a Brexit deal that protects jobs and security, but we know from her Government’s own secret Brexit analysis that every nation and region of the UK will be worse-off outside the Single Market and the Customs Union.[3]

On the issue of security, Theresa May herself recently made an eloquent case for why the UK has benefited from EU-wide security cooperation. During a speech at the Munich Security Conference on 17 February, she said:

“But it has always been the case that our security at home is best advanced through global cooperation, working with institutions that support that, including the EU.” [4]

Crashing out of the EU on hard terms clearly puts our deep and comprehensive level of security cooperation with our European allies at risk.


4. ‘Being consistent with being an open, outward-looking European democracy

Theresa May said she wants a Brexit deal that is consistent with a vision of the UK as an open, outward looking European democracy. However, it was Theresa May who insulted millions of people across the country in her speech at the Conservative Party Conference in 2016, when she said:

“If you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” (Theresa May, 5 October 2016)[5]

Theresa May has also repeatedly failed to promise that she will uphold European protections on things like employment rights post-Brexit, such as the working time regulations.[6]


5. ‘Strengthening the Union’

Theresa May said she wants a Brexit deal that ‘strengthens the Union’. But Brexit is already doing great damage to the relationship between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Both the Scottish[7] and Welsh[8] Governments have heavily criticised the Government’s Brexit ‘red lines’, and have both called on Theresa May to keep the UK in the Single Market and the Customs Union.

Both Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon, the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland respectively, have also criticised the Government’s ‘EU Withdrawal Bill’, saying it represents a ‘power-grab’ of devolved powers. They have threatened to withhold their legislative consent unless substantial changes are made to the legislation.[9]

And Theresa May’s pledge to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland, despite wrenching the UK out of the Single Market and the Customs Union, was undermined yesterday by Open Britain unearthing a video of an interview she gave just two days before the Brexit referendum. In it, she admitted that keeping an open border if Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is outside of the EU would be impossible.[10]