So another weekend goes by, and of course here in the UK things would not be the norm if the government had not made some sort of U-turn or had a cabinet split over the last couple days.
Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond had proposed a plan to allow European Union citizens to live freely, travel and work in the UK beyond the March 2019 cut off point, possibly until 2022. However, this idea was rebuked by the international trade secretary Liam Fox in an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper over the weekend, with Fox believing such a deal would ‘not keep faith’ with the result of the Brexit vote. He went on to claim that he had been kept out of the loop stating ‘If there have been discussions on that, I have not been party to them. I have not been involved in any discussions on that’. This seems to clearly contradict Philip Hammond’s view of last week’s cabinet talks, where he claimed there was a broad acceptance in government that a transition period of several years should be implemented.
Fox, who was one of the leading figures in the campaign for the UK to leave the EU last year, believes the border controls were one of the cornerstones of the wishes of those who voted to leave the EU, saying ‘We made it clear that control of our own borders was one of the elements we wanted in the referendum, and unregulated free movement would seem to me not to keep faith with that decision’.
And as for Hammond, who campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, he has now said that the UK does not intend to become a tax haven after Brexit. In January the Chancellor gave an interview to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, where he said the UK would transform its economic model if the EU did not play ball in the Brexit negotiations. He stated at the time that whilst he wanted the UK to remain a EU style economy, he warned that ‘We could be forced to change our economic model, and we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness. And you can be sure we will do whatever we have to do’.
However, now Hammond has said he does not intend to lower taxes far below the EU average and intends to keep a European style social and economic model. In another interview in Europe, this time with French newspaper Le Monde, he says ‘It is often said that London would consider launching into unfair competition in terms of fiscal regulation. That is not our project or our vision for the future’ adding ‘The amount of tax that we raise, measured as a percentage of GDP, is within the European average and I think we will remain at that level. Even after we have left the EU, the United Kingdom will keep a social, economic and cultural model that will be recognisably European’.
Of course the way the government in the UK is acting at the moment, the time between this daily update being written and you reading it, many things could have changed again!! Did someone mention laughing stock …