14 Sep 2016

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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One reader comment

  1. Philip says:

    I’m assuming this won’t be published as nothing seems to be at the moment on the C4 website (see more below).
    I think if Letwin believes we can get a deal that keeps financial services in the Single Market but opt out of the rest, he’s living in cloud-cuckoo land & should read your previous blog.

    More generally – why are you virtually the only person in the C4 blogs actually blogging? Why does the C4 page remain virtually the same from day to day, except for your blogs? What has happened to some interesting blogs by a range of people here, including some fascinating discussions? Have C4 decided not to support the website or the blogs? At any rate, I used to go to your website frequently. Now it’s a once a week event and probably will become even less.

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