The Prime Minister is expected to make a landmark speech signalling that she is prepared to back a clean Brexit, taking the UK out of the European Union (EU) customs union and Single Market.
“She’s gone for the full works,” a government source has told the Sunday Telegraph. “People will know when she said ‘Brexit means Brexit’, she really meant it.”
The so-called Remain resistance have pushed hard for the United Kingdom to stay within the EU customs union, which would leave the government unable to strike lucrative new trade deals with countries like Australia and the United States.
They also want Britain to stay in the Single Market, a Brussels-regulated zone where European courts are the ultimate legal authority and migration between participating states in unlimited and effectively uncontrolled.
Remain campaigners have argued that the vote to Leave the European Union did not give Theresa May a mandate to leave the Single Market, despite campaigners and government ministers on all sides declaring that a vote for Brexit was a vote to leave it.
Speaking in Germany ahead of May’s speech, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond appeared to warn that control over immigration would be a red line, and that the government “will do whatever we have to do” to regain competitiveness if the bloc attempts to punish the UK economically, slashing taxes and changing the nation’s economic model to make it a more attractive place for businesses relative to the damagingly over-regulated EU.
This more combative tone may reflect a growing realisation of the United Kingdom’s negotiating strength relative to the EU.
Earlier in the week, leaked minutes of a meeting between the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator and senior MEPs suggested that the EU was seeking a deal for “special access” to the City of London – diehard Remainers had previously suggested that Brussels would drive a hard bargain on financial services – and the Governor of the Bank of England conceded that the EU had more to lose from an acrimonious Brexit than Britain.
However, Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage claims he is “yet to be convinced” by the government’s outwardly tough new stance.
Speaking to the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, the former UKIP leader said, “I’m quite certain Theresa May will do what she always does: sound very reassuring, she will look to be very much in control, saying all the right things – and people like me will say it sounds great but why is it taking so long?
“When it comes to immigration, in particular, which she is highlighting, this is coming from the person who was Home Secretary and failed completely.
“I’m yet to be convinced, I have to say.”