Oliver Letwin: how to negotiate Brexit
Oliver Letwin only had two weeks in the job scoping out options for the Brexit negotiations. The sudden collapse of the Tory leadership contest which left Theresa May the only candidate standing, brought his efforts to a sudden close.
But that didn’t stop him coming to some initial conclusions.
He tells me on Channel 4 News tonight he’d discovered “there are literally hundreds of different kinds of ways in which the UK is joined into joint operations of one kind or another with other EU countries and each of those has to be unpicked in one degree or another as we move out and exit the EU…each of those precipitates a negotiation or a discussion and the trick here is to identify enough cases where there are things our counterpart governments want which we’d be willing to give to build up a kind of war chest for trading in order to get as much as possible in both control of migration and access for financial services.”
Mr Letwin thinks carving up the Single Market into discrete sectors probably isn’t worth asking for. Anything that requires the EU to redraw its own structures would risk looking like the “UK tail wagging the EU dog” and would be a non-starter.
He believes there could be “a massive blow” to Britain’s economy if negotiations fail to preserve the “permissions” which the Single Market give British and British-based institutions to trade in the EU. He says “there’s a danger that those people (the many hundreds of thousands of people working around the city like accountants/ lawyers/ consultants) would gradually seep away to Frankfurt or Paris or some other financial centre, if the retail financial services went…if that were to happen then gradually too the wholesale markets might begin to migrate” – lured away by the declining lustre of London.
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