May hints at transitional Brexit deal
British Prime Minister Therese May told the Confederation of British Industry she understands that business and industry don’t want the UK to go over a ‘cliff edge’ in 2019. This is being interpreted as the first hint that she may seek a transitional deal with the EU. The Guardian comments: “It is generally assumed that a transitional deal of this kind would involve the UK staying in the single market, or preserving most aspects of single market membership, after leaving the EU for a period of, say, five years while the UK and the EU negotiate a proper trade deal.” The cliff edge would mean WTO tariffs for several years while some sort of trade deal was cobbled together. The Leave means Leave campaign had her in their sights immediately: “Britain must leave the EU within a maximum period of two years after triggering article 50 – no EU deal is better than a bad deal.” This in a nutshell is what British politics are going to be about for the next few years. A transitional deal makes sense from every standpoint. This could mean that the period of Cabinet bluster and nonsense about trading with the whole world is at an end and some sort of realism is breaking out. But it is as yet a very small straw in the wind and may not survive the first hint that the EU would naturally have a few conditions for transitional membership of the Single Market such as free movement of people.