Lord Flight is Chairman of Flight & Partners Recovery Fund, and is a former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Voters are clearly utterly fed up with Brexit negotiations, and either want a sensible deal, or for the Government to walk away. They are far less keen than politicians on forking out £39 billion: for what?
As regards domestic politics, the Conservative Party is benefitting from voter fears of a communist, Jeremy Corbyn-led, Government, while Labour is benefitting from perceived Conservative poor handling of Brexit and government. So far, there is some polling evidence to suggst that fear of Corbyn is the more powerful of these two forces – the Conservatives are six per cent ahead of Labour in one poll – but domestic politics have undoubtedly become volatile.
The Prime Minister now needs to get a move on in resolving Brexit. I hope that she realises (the point could hardly have been made more forcefully to her at Salzburg) that her Chequers proposals are unacceptable to the EU. She would be wasting her time in continuing to argue for it, and likely only attract even more EU rudeness than she has already experienced. She needs to move the discussion on to a Canada Plus Deal.
It is clear that the options are of either this, or letting the WTO to structure a UK/EU trading regime. A major plus for Canada Plus is that it would appear that the EU side of table is supportive, including Michel Barnier and Donald Tusk. For this reason, I do not see it that would be difficult to craft an acceptable deal for the island of Ireland, in relation to which the ERG has already submitted its proposals.
What will be needed is to negotiate Heads of Agreement on all main counts by the spring, to be fleshed out thereafter into a detailed agreement. Most of the relevant documentation for a Canada Plus deal can be copied and adapted as required from the Canada deal. I also make the specific point that to the extent that a Canada Plus deal can deliver no tariffs, the easier is the Ireland issue to solve, as there would be no duties to collect.
If the Prime Minister does not get on with switching to a Canada Plus deal and continues to labour her Chequers agenda, she is likely to be under pressure to stand down sooner than otherwise. By contrast, leading a successful Canada Plus deal would be likely to command support of the Commons and a majority of the Conservative Party, and would boost the Prime Minister’s support substantially.
That mainstream domestic UK politics is largely frozen by Brexit is helping to give credence to the Communist agenda proposed by Corbyn and John McDonell. Margaret Thatcher would rightly have been horrified that any credence at all is given to such an agenda. For various reasons, it is difficult at present for the Conservative Party to kill off the Corbyn agenda. I think it would be worthwhile paying for a leading PR firm to construct and run a campaign designed to destroy the dangerous Corbyn nonsense before people and organisations who ought to know better start to treat it more seriously.