Theresa May confirmed on May 16 that Britain would remain in Europe’s Single Market – using the news chaos around the Royal Wedding to ensure media would overlook it.
The likely arrangement, known as BEANO (Brexit Existing As a Name Only), may have been simultaneously released in the eponymous children’s comic.
But Mrs May’s deliberate leak (1 min 23 secs into the clip) was made during her formal Prime Minister’s Question Time – clearly as a device to flush out opponents to Single Market membership in her own party. While she insists Britain will leave THE Customs Union, she is equally clear about her objectives for A Customs Union – long accepted as code for surreptitiously committing Britain to virtually remaining an EU member
The effect of the ploy appears positive. The only newspaper understanding it, the Daily Telegraph, is notoriously read by opponents of the Single Market: yet reader comments on the report were overwhelmingly pro-continuation. Known opponents in her Party have remained studiously silent, while Liam Fox, arch-opponent of continued membership, is clearly contemplating his imminent evisceration at 3.43 of the main PMQ clip.
Precise details – likely to be an application to join EFTA, and therefore the EEA – will be revealed in a White Paper due to be released in June, and the inevitable Royal Wedding domination of headlines will ensure no real discussion for some days.
In a separate announcement (also first carried in The Beano), the Queen appears, reinforcing the Palace’s austerity programme, to have awarded the Royal Warrant to Britain’s most successful-ever clothes retailer.