It’s been more than six months since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, but people still haven’t wrapped their heads around the fact that it means that, like President Donald J. Trump, Britain leaving the EU is really going to happen.
It doesn’t matter how many times Prime Minister Theresa May says “Brexit means Brexit”—and she has said it a lot of times; like, really, a whole lot of times—the optimists out there think that they can hear a faint “not” at the end of those three hard words, or that she can’t really be serious, or that it really won’t be all that bad, or that she’s playing some kind of wily game that will eventuate in everyone being happy, even though Theresa May doesn’t do wily: She does plodding, and no one will ever be happy. Still, people have to cling to something. And so when she hasn’t said “Brexit means Brexit” for a few days, people get a little frisky. And then she goes and says it again and people get nervous, worrying that this time, she might actually mean it.
Sterling fell 0.9 percent against the dollar to 1.2174 by 8:47 a.m. in London, the weakest since October….
“She signaled once again that the aim of controlling immigration was a red line she would not be willing to cross,” said Esther Reichelt, a currency strategist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “That means that following Brexit the country is likely to lose access to the single market,” she said, adding that until the government finally presents a concrete and convincing strategy, market participants will increasingly fear a disaster.
Luckily, they might not have to wait long. Later this month, she promises to offer some “clarity” on this golden and welcome “opportunity to fundamentally change Britain for the better.” Which would be welcome if it were actually possible.
What will she say, especially when she insists that she does not want to give away her bargaining position with Brussels too early? And how will she calm down the fervid, angry and partisan atmosphere around the whole topic — both in the country at large and, more important, in her own Conservative government?
And it will have to be one hell of a bargaining position, because as often as May says “Brexit means Brexit,” Angie Merkel says “if you want to stay in the single market,” a.k.a. not destroy your economy, “we’re gonna keep sending Polish plumbers through the Chunnel.” And since Polish plumbers are the whole reason Brexit happen, and since May very much wants to do some of the cherry-picking Angie says she can’t, and since the Germans have reached their one compromise per decade limit, it had really better be a tour de force of negotiating.
Pound Falls to 10-Week Low as May Hints at Single-Market Exit [Bloomberg]
Theresa May Says Britain Will Make Definitive Break With EU [WSJ]
Theresa May: Brexit can ‘change Britain for the better’ [BBC News]
Theresa May Prepares to Walk ‘Brexit’ Tightrope With Speech [NYT]
Accept free movement or EU will restrict single market access, Angela Merkel warns Theresa May [Telegraph]