LONDON — The UK government may try to “have its cake and eat it” as part of a Brexit negotiation strategy, according to a document photographed by a freelance photographer.
This may mean pushing to restrict EU citizens coming across the border while at the same time retaining unified trading conditions in the single market.
The notes in the photograph also highlight that is approach is unlikely to succeed.
Steve Back, a photographer that is known for capturing sensitive information, photographed a handwritten note carried by the aide of the vice-chairman of the ruling Conservative party and MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, Mark Field.
A government spokesperson told the FT and The Telegraph the handwritten memo “is not a government document and does not reflect government views.” The spokesperson added that Field’s aide, who was carrying the document, was “not a government employee or special adviser.”
However, the handwritten notes give an insight into how key officials are viewing Brexit talks.
Key parts of the handwritten note seem to be:
- Britain’s main plan is to “have cake and eat it” — This means Britain is trying to retain all the perks of being part of the European Union — namely access to the single market through unified trading conditions — while also opting out of the Freedom of Movement act, which allows EU citizens to easily migrate to any other member state.
- The government thinks it is “unlikely” that Britain will retain its s ingle market status after it leaves the EU — This is perhaps unsurprising considering a whole raft of EU officials, including Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydlo, and the prime minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, have all said or hinted that it is not possible for Britain to have single market access while also placing restrictions on EU citizens’ migration to the UK.
- Britain will try and pursue a separate “Canada plus” deal — this seems to be a reference to the recently signed EU-Canada trade deal that nearly collapsed. It looks like the Conservative party are looking to forge separate deals with other countries, even though Canada’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, recently said while Canada was keen to reach a deal with the UK after it leaves the EU, it would not be a priority.
- France is posing the biggest problem for Britain — The memo mentions how France is an obstacle for Britain. On the potential new Canada deal, the note said that a “very French negotiating team” could hurt plans. On top of that, the note also said that negotiating what will happen to the services sector, potentially referring to the loss of Britain’s financial passporting rights, is “harder” because “French hoping for business.”
- There is some opposition towards the Bank of England’s push for a transition deal — BOE Governor Mark Carney backs plans for a transitional period to phase in any Brexit deal, but the note suggests that government officials are not happy with this. The note said “transition, loath to do it,” as well as “we need to bring negotiation to an end.”
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