Only one person will truly decide how Brexit will turn out; Theresa May. With the main opposition of Labour in leadership turmoil, Liberal Democrats in decline, and Ukip in an ideological fight, May is the sole Queen maker, Brexit will be defined by her.
Of course she has her advisors, but, she's made it clear that she is making the decisions. It will not be decided by the supposed “Brexit Minister”, proud patriot, and well respected David Davis who will be taking orders from May and is nothing more than a co-pilot. Nor will it be the official campaign group from the referendum, “Vote Leave”, which was fronted by two MPs with one becoming Foreign Secretary in May’s cabinet and the other being sent to political exile. The former getting the role as a token rather than anything else substantial.
As such, to understand what “Brexit” will mean, a person must try and understand what Theresa May believes. Her speech at the Conservative party conference last week clarifies a great deal.
The conference itself, like many of the Conservative Party conferences, reflected a leftward shift for the party, really a continuation of the gradual shift left that has been going on for some time. With the re-election of the left wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, this is maybe less obvious, so that the Tory party sees itself as seizing the “centre ground”.
May’s speech, though, was full of the rhetoric commonly associated with the left; many references to the working class, attacking tax dodgers, and attacking “unrestricted” free trade. It led many to dub May (and May herself has before mentioned it) as a one nation conservative.
A one nation conservative is basically a centrist conservative. It has its ideological roots in Britain dating back to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. A caving into boundless government growth and Keynesian economic policies. That “centre ground”, is what some would just call “left wing”.
So what are the directions of May's new one nation policies in regards Brexit? Her imprint, as I call it, will be on immigration, repealing EU laws, and access to the EU market.
Immigration is perhaps the only issue that May will approach resolutely. She says she is willing to sacrifice ground on repealing EU laws, and access to the EU market, in order to take control of the UK's borders. After all, immigration was the main issue for a large percentage of leave voters. Immigration perfectly represents the loss of British identity and cultural shifts that much of the public blamed on the EU. May, whether or not she actually cares about the effects of immigration, will make ending the freedom of movement an absolute in any negotiation.
Removing the bulk of EU laws will not happen anytime soon. May brags of her government “Great Repeal Bill”, headed up by leave supporter Chris Grayling, but it would take a good several years to remove all of the laws set in place by the EU. With a general election intervening, who knows how the process would ultimately go if the government changes hands. Ideally, we would remove all EU implemented laws and start over, but don't hold your breath, as not enough of the electorate really care enough about it to push the issue, and a one nation conservative like May likely won't prioritize it.
The trade issue won't be a major problem. Many Remainers said leaving the European Union will result in us losing access to the EU market. Since we buy and sell so much from other EU countries, they need us more than we need them. May knows this, and will simply be able to push it through.
With that in mind, she likely get a deal that will suffice, but won’t impress anyone. And some of the “free traders” and “low tax liberals” may be shocked to learn that we won’t become a utopia of small state governance they had hoped. All bad? In spite of short comings, there is some good room for optimism as well. The terribly banal but important point, 100 days ago we weren't even sure of Brexit passing. Now our chances of regaining our sovereignty and place in things looks better than in years.
Adam J. Young is editor (in a loose sense) of Collapse from Inside. He has written for VDARE, Libertarian Alliance, and UKIP Daily, among others. Check out more at Collapse from Inside