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Last Updated : Feb 11, 2018 08:22 PM IST | Source: PTI

Downing Street launches new 'Road to Brexit' campaign

The campaign will involve a series of six speeches by leading Cabinet ministers as well as a "showcase" policy speech by British Prime Minister Theresa May in the coming weeks.

Downing Street has triggered what is being dubbed as a new 'Road to Brexit' campaign to counter claims of a lack of clarity on the part of the British government over the kind of relationship it wants with the European Union as a non-member.

The campaign will involve a series of six speeches by leading Cabinet ministers as well as a "showcase" policy speech by British Prime Minister Theresa May in the coming weeks, in an attempt to spell out the contours of a post- Brexit relationship with the EU.

"What the public want is, they want the vision and they want some meat on the bones," UK international development minister Penny Mordaunt said in reference to the campaign tomorrow.

It comes as a new opinion poll by BMG Research for 'The Independent' newspaper found that three-quarters of British public have little idea of what Theresa May wants from Brexit, specifically in relation to critical areas like trade and immigration.

On the "overall plans for Brexit" question, 74 percent said May's plans were unclear, while just 17 percent said they were clear.

The poll comes as there is mounting pressure on May to set out her vision for Britain after Brexit, something the showpiece speech within the next three weeks is expected to address.

Meanwhile, hard Brexiteers – foreign minister Boris Johnson, Brexit minister David Davis and international trade Liam Fox – will also set out their agenda while addressing sticky issues like the devolution of powers, workers' rights and trade.

There is also a plan for an "away day" crunch summit of the Brexit sub-committee at the prime minister's country retreat Chequers in the coming weeks to try and achieve a consensus within the UK Cabinet on Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

The away day is seen as crucial after two major "war cabinet" meetings of her Brexit sub-committee earlier this week failed to arrive at a decisive conclusion.

Meanwhile, the rebellious voices within the Conservative party have continued to raise their pitch, with a senior MP warning that Parliament could defeat Theresa May's final Brexit pitch unless she succeeds in laying out a decisive plan.

Asked if there was a House of Commons majority to defeat "the kind of Brexit the Prime Minister wants", Anna Soubry said: "If she's [Theresa May] not careful, yes."

May is also facing a growing discontent among Tory party donors, with one senior backer warning that the Tories will be "decimated" at an election unless the Prime Minister ends her indecision and shows leadership.

"She's got to take the bull by the horns and say, ‘this is the road we are going. Do your damnedest – if you want to vote me out, vote me out'," said John Hall, who has given the Conservatives more than 500,000 pounds since 2007 and helped fund May's snap general election in June 2017.

"It is up to Theresa now to convince everybody that she can be the leader who can stay. I think that’s the way most people in the party are looking at it. Show us your leadership. This is the time to stand up and show it," he said.

All eyes will now be on Johnson, who is set to kick off the series of keynote Brexit speeches on Wednesday. The staunch Brexiteer is expected to make a rallying call for unity among MPs on either side of the Brexit divide within the Conservative party.

His speech will come days after the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned an agreement over a transition period after Brexit was dependent on Britain making substantial choices on the future relationship with the 27- member economic bloc.

Both sides are working towards a timeline of the European Council meeting in Brussels in March to agree on the implementation period of Brexit in order to be able to move negotiations on to the next level.
First Published on Feb 11, 2018 08:13 pm
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