A senior Tory has suggested that backing a ‘hard’ Brexit is “stupid.”
Lord Hill is a former EU commissioner who was Leader of the Lords under the premiership of close ally David Cameron.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday that the UK had to weigh up whether to pursue ‘hard’ Brexit, a deal in which Britain would leave EU’s free trade zone in return for major curbs on immigration.
“I think we often have this false choice in the UK between ‘hard’ Brexit’ and ‘soft’ Brexit,” Lord Hill said.
“I think the choice is between stupid Brexit and more intelligent Brexit, and that is what we need to go for.”
Hill said: “If we approach [Brexit negotiations] in a sensible way, because the European system is a deal-based system, there is more scope for trying to resolve it intelligently than if we go at it in a way where we all end up shouting at each other.”
Theresa May has hinted that she is leaning towards a hard Brexit. Other senior ministers with Brexit responsibilities, including Boris Johnson and David Davis, have suggested that they would like Britain to leave the single market.
The UK treasury estimates the financial impact of a ‘hard’ Brexit would be huge and could result in a loss of up to £66 billion in revenue every year. There is also growing public concern about the UK’s post-Brexit economy, according to a poll released this week.
Hill was previously the EU’s commissioner for financial stability, financial services, and capital markets, making him the most senior British official in Brussels. He resigned shortly after the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
His comments came the day after May was left humiliated at her first Brussels summit. Following a long dinner on Thursday in which Brexit was not even discussed, May made a brief speech.
At its heart was, according to the Today programme, “a plea that Britain should not be ignored since we remain a full EU member until we actually leave.” The words were, however, followed by complete silence from the other 27 leaders, many of whom believe the UK “must be made to pay” for its decision.
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