May sets course for hard Brexit

Britain will not remain in the single market after Brexit, Theresa May announced in her speech earlier this week. The prime minister also promised that her country would curb immigration from the EU and would no longer be subject to the ECJ's jurisdiction. Commentators put a damper on expectations that other member states will benefit from Brexit.

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Der Standard (AT) /

There will be no bank exodus

It's unrealistic to think that large international banks will leave the City of London for the European mainland, Der Standard is convinced:

“The budding euphoria in Frankfurt, Paris, Luxembourg and even Vienna over new jobs and free-spending bankers may be over-optimistic. London doesn't just live from regulations, but also from a centuries-old tradition of high quality in the banking sector and favourable conditions. ... Even if the financial companies do have to get a European passport for the most part they will only relocate smaller divisions in order to meet the requirements for obtaining a banking licence in the Union. The major decisions and the vast majority of employees will remain in the City. Certainly, Brussels shouldn't allow itself to be fobbed off with high-quality letterbox companies. Nevertheless the EU has no way of forcing a mass exodus.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Latvians' dream of a better life is over

The situation of the roughly 100,000 Latvian immigrants living in the UK is indeed unenviable, Neatkarīgā writes worriedly:

“Brexit won't be easy for Latvian citizens, who can expect all manner of constraints and burdens. ... And border controls mean they'll no longer be able to bring cheap cigarettes and alcohol back home. New immigrants will no longer be able to get a job, open a bank account or get a social insurance number without jumping through hoops. ... Many are trying to acquire British citizenship before it's too late. Because Britain is the Latvians' favourite country: low unemployment, excellent social benefits, high salaries. English is also far easier to learn than German or Norwegian. But unfortunately the future doesn't look at all rosy. May's Brexit speech has shown that soon the UK will cease to be a paradise for many Latvians.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Hardliners forcing May's hand

Pressure from within the Tory party has forced the British prime minister to adopt a clearly anti-EU course, The Irish Independent complains:

“Seven months ago, as we struggled to digest the implications of the shock referendum result, it was still possible to hope common sense would prevail. Surely Britain would find a way to stay in the single market or perhaps go for the European Economic Area/Norway option. It would be economic madness not to do so. That clearly was wishful thinking. As is so often the case, political expediency is trumping sound economics. May's continued leadership of the Conservative party depends on her delivering a 'hard' Brexit.”

Kaleva (FI) /

Britain must not be allowed to cherry-pick

It would be unwise of the EU to make too many concessions in the Brexit negotiations, Kaleva warns:

“The EU must not sign a deal that allows the UK to keep the advantages of free movement of people, capital, goods and services while avoiding the inconvenient obligations that are necessary to maintain these freedoms. If Britain is allowed to just take the tastiest bits of the EU cake, such concessions could encourage other countries that are critical of the EU to take the same path. The future of the EU is also at stake in the negotiations on Britain's exit.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

A courageous vision for a flourishing Britain

May's plan for a clean break from the EU is cause for hope and deserves the support of the entire British nation, The Daily Telegraph writes in praise:

“The plan represents a masterclass in common sense and is exactly what Britain voted for last June. Mrs May’s plan deserves support and will surely get it from most reasonable people. That is because it is rooted in confidence. Confidence about Britain and its prospects in a global economy. Confidence in this country’s ability to grow and prosper regardless of how EU negotiations conclude - crucially, the Prime Minister is willing to walk away from a bad deal and understands the strength of our bargaining position, unlike David Cameron.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

The EU's most spectacular failure

The British prime minister's decision in favour of a hard Brexit is a major defeat for the European Union, economist Jacques Sapir writes in Le Figaro:

“In implementing a strategy of rupture and in showing that she can carry it through, Theresa May is in fact demonstrating the powerlessness of the EU. The Union has thus not only shown that it is detrimental to its member countries, with the exception of Germany: it has also shown that it is also unable to prevent its members from leaving it, and above all from leaving it for their own benefit. One of the EU's biggest challenges was to show just how costly such a break would be. By failing to dissuade one of its main member states from leaving it, the EU has suffered its biggest - and perhaps definitive - failure.”

ABC (ES) /

May is encouraging false hopes

May's master plan is dishonest, unrealistic and naïve as far as ABC is concerned:

“We should thank the British prime minister for finally providing clarity by giving a general idea of how she sees Britain's future completely outside the EU. But judging by her words May is still deceiving her fellow citizens by promising that she can create a situation in which it will be more advantageous for the country not to be in the EU. The idea of a Britain that is 'open to the world' and free to forge its own alliances while at the same time profiting from special conditions with its European partners is an impossible utopia. To believe that the City of London can continue to operate in the European financial market without being subject to the jurisdiction of the Luxembourg court is naïve.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Between self-assurance and doubt

Theresa May's self-assured attitude leaves many unanswered questions, De Volkskrant comments:

“Her announcement that even after Brexit she hoped to maintain close ties with Britain's 'friends and allies' in the EU is cause for optimism. ... After Trumps comments this week, Europe's leaders could well use a pat on the back from London. But then came May's strange-sounding threats: for example that the UK could become a tax haven. A sort of 'Cyprus on steroids'? That sounds almost desperate. ... May promised free trade on the path to a Global Britain. But her pretty words conceal a series of concrete problems. ... Now it's the task of the British and the Europeans to deal with the situation as pragmatically as possible and to give the scornful onlookers in the White House and the Kremlin as little cause to gloat as possible.”

Pravda (SK) /

London just wants to keep immigrants out

May has confirmed the attitude of the Conservatives who are willing to give up everything to be rid of the "Polish plumber", Pravda criticises:

“All the talk in the run-up to the referendum about how much the UK pays into the EU and the calculations that supposedly show that everything would improve for the British economy were just a sham. Asked to choose between the single market and curtailing migration from Europe, the Eurosceptics didn't hesitate for a moment. They tossed the common market and the customs union overboard because the empty palaver about the 'Polish plumber' prevailed. ... May's speech has improved the exchange rate of the battered pound, but it hasn't improved the mood in parliament. After all, the British aren't negotiating with themselves but with the powerful colossus of the EU.”

More opinions

The Irish Times (IE) / 18 January 2017
  Not a good start for constructive negotiations