Sussex Progressives

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May’s Brexit is becoming clearer, and it is not looking good

After months of stalling, Theresa May finally gave a glimpse on Tuesday of her vision for the UK’s departure from the European Union. Brexit not only means Brexit, but also apparently leaving the single market, leaving the customs union and ending the free movement of people. Undoubtedly, this is the hardest of Brexits. This Tory vision for Brexit will have severe consequences not only for the UK’s future relationship with Europe, but for the future of the UK itself. At this important juncture, progressives cannot get this wrong.

Strip away the hyperbole of May’s speech and what the Conservatives have in mind for the future of the UK paints the bleakest of pictures. May tells us:

 ‘I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before’

The irony in this is palpable. ‘Stronger’ has meant kowtowing to Trump’s America and dividing Europe at a time of increasing instability. ‘More united’ translates as the political polarisation of the country and the prospect of the disintegration of the UK itself. ‘More outward-looking’ involves abandoning the greatest living international peace project and largest economic market. While ‘fairer’ refers to transforming the UK into a tax haven and threatening the residency of many non-British EU nationals who call this country home.

If Brexit is to happen, progressives must ensure the Conservatives do not dictate its direction. We must show a united front in combating a vision for the future of the UK that is political divisive, socially regressive and economically damaging. Undeniably Brexit is the new fault line of British politics. For progressivism to have a chance of staying relevant as politics slides ever rightwards, a route to Brexit that adheres to the values of democracy, justice, equality and tolerance is urgently needed. 

By Ian Lovering

Robbie Hirst