27 Apr 2017

Brexit Still Divides the UK

Britons remain divided over Brexit as a new poll by YouGov shows. The survey, taken by 1, 590 people in the last two days, estimates that 45% of them think that voting for Brexit was a bad idea, but another 43% still support leaving the EU. However, this is the first time, since the referendum last year, that more voters consider their decision wrong.

The data, published in the Times yesterday, came as Theresa May was meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier to discuss the process of negotiations. The consultation was described as “constructive” and, according to Downing Street’s spokesman, the Prime minister expressed “the UK’s commitment to achieving a deep and special partnership with the European Union.”

However, earlier this morning, Angela Merkel gave a bitter sweet talk on the previous day, saying that Britain shouldn’t have the “illusion” that its privileges would be the same after leaving the Union. The German chancellor spoke in front of the EU Parliament in a strict tone that implied that the EU27 leaders’ position will be similar when they formally agree on the negotiation guidelines this weekend. As she stated: “Countries with a third country status – and that’s what Great Britain will be – cannot and will not have the same or even more rights as a member of the European Union. All 27 member states and the European institutions agree on this.” Additionally, Mrs Merkell cleared out the possibility of simultaneous talks over the UK’ divorcing bill and the future trade relationship after Brexit, which was Theresa May’s intentions. “We can only make a deal about Britain’s future relationship to the EU once all questions about the terms of its exit can be clarified to a satisfying degree,” the German leader pointed out.

David Cameron doesn’t have any “illusion” about the price of Brexit, and agreed that Britain should pay the £50 billion bill. Questioned on the topic at a global tourism conference in Bangkok, the former prime minister said: “I would hope that we will be able to agree, as it were, the first bits of divorce – it’s a bit like a divorce, you have to deal with the money and then access to the children afterwards.” Mr Cameron admitted also that “we accept some liabilities for this membership we’ve had for 40 years, just as we have a claim on some of the assets that we’ve paid into.”

However, his position is not shared by all the members of the Conservative party. The International Trade Secretary Liam Fox even described it as “absurd”. Theresa May herself hasn’t supported any of the two positions saying only that she is prepared to discuss a “fair settlement”.

It seems Brexit will be the main topic dividing the voters at the upcoming snap election. Pro-EU business woman Gina Miller said early this morning that only within a week she raised £300,000 which she will donate to any candidate, despite its party beliefs, ready to push for the closest possible relationship with the EU. Miller, who came in the spot light with her law-suit against the Government for overstepping the Parliament and implementing Brexit without its approval, said she will launch a website to help voters to identify pro-EU candidates.

Still, by far, Theresa May seems to be more successful in her intentions to unite the Brexit front. According to an Ipsos-Mori survey, 49% of the people will vote Conservative, taking a 4% from UKIP supporters. The Liberal Democrats are currently at 13%.


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