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Each Party's Manifesto For Brexit

With the third national elections in two years less than 2 weeks away, the British electorate, already fatigued by the unstopping rounds of politics, must remain stayed on the crux of the matter, Brexit.

The snap elections was called on the 18th of April 2017 by the British Prime Minister Theresa May to give the government a stronger hand at the negotiation table for Brexit. She also cited divisions within Westminster as other reasons, however the subject of Brexit remained to sole reason the snap elections was called.

Rounds of politicking have raised up other matters like the crisis in the Middle East, use of nuclear war heads, the NHS, and immigration amongst many others. Nonetheless it is important that subject of Brexit as well as how each party views it remains at the fore of our minds while we head to the polls come June 8.

The outcome of Brexit negotiations will determine the direction the country will be headed for decades and generations to come. And your vote is what will give the government the mandate to set the tone for the negotiations that will define our country's continuing prosperity or fall from grace.

This article attempts to bring the three parties manifesto into perspective - focusing on their Brexit view and strategy.

The Conservatives

The Conservatives' view of Brexit was well documented in the Brexit White Paper months before the snap election was announced. The prime minister probably even over repeated the phrases 'strong and stable leadership; suggesting that what the conservatives are promising is more of the same.

Key points in their manifesto include:-

  1. The UK will be leaving the single market and customs union. But there will be a comprehensive free trade agreement between the UK and the EU, such that the UK may accept to make some contribution to the EU.
  2. Immigration will targets remain the same. Dropping migration figures to the tens of thousands. Rights of EU nationals in the UK will be secure as much as rights of British nationals in EU countries are secure.
  3. Workers' rights will be preserved "at the point at which we leave the EU" There may be a redrafting or adoption of EU labour laws to a UK version.
  4. The mechanism for transposing EU laws into British laws will be through the Great Repeal Bill. A full explanation of what the Great Repeal Bill is about can be found here.
  5. The European Convention on Human Rights will not be brought into UK law. It may last only as far as the next Parliament after Brexit.
  6. The manifesto also continues to affirm that 'no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK'. Suggesting that the UK may revert to the WTO rules for international trade should it not be happy with the EU's position on things.

It is clear that such bold statements made by the Tory led government clearly ignores warnings and advice put forth by EU negotiators and experts. That life after Brexit will not be unilaterally decided by the UK. 27 other nations also play a strong role here.

The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal democrats manifesto is strongly against hard Brexit. Leader Tim Farron said "Labour is holding Theresa May's hand as she jumps off the cliff edge of a hard Brexit...You might worry that jobs and living standards are threatened by the extreme and divisive Brexit that Theresa May has chosen for Britain".

The Liberal democrats adopts a rather narrow assessment of Brexit and includes in its manifesto a subtle option to reject Brexit altogether if it is not favourable to the British people. It suggests a second referendum - arguing that the referendum did give the government a mandate for the type of Brexit it wants. It blames the government for choosing hard Brexit which according to the Liberals is disastrous for the economy.

The UK's model for Brexit as put forward by Liberal suggests that they may favour a model akin to that of Norway's.

Key points of the liberal Democrats manifesto with regards to Brexit are summarised below: -

  1. The UK would remain in the Single market and part of the Customs Union. Essentially, London will retain its place in the EU and global financial markets.
  2. Unilaterality, the Liberal government will move to guarantee the rights of EU migrants in the UK; whilst pushing for the rights of UK nationals in European countries.
  3. An unwavering commitments towards the protection of worker's rights in the UK. Having appreciated the fact that major employment and worker's rights that have made the British people happier, prosperous and more productive have come from EU laws. Lib Dems will therefore fight to ensure that these rights are not undermined.

What they have not told us is if those rights and legislations will continue to fall under the jurisdiction of European Courts.

The labour party

The labour party's manifesto strongly denounces the 'no deal' negotiation position put forward by the Conservatives. According to labour, it is clear that a no deal will adversely affect the prosperity of the British people, as such they cannot understand why that should even be a negotiation option and position for the Tories.

As much as the Labour Party rejects a deal or cliff edge Brexit scenario sold by Tories, the Labour manifesto does not go as far totally rebuffing Brexit as offered by Liberal Democrats.

Highlights of the labour manifesto include: -

  1. The manifesto states that they will seek to retain the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union. The strategic use of the phrase retain the benefits highlights Labour's view on Brexit. Analysing that statement from the point view of what it definitely does not mean (within context) will give a clearer understanding. For example, that statement does mean that all partnerships and liabilities in and from the EU. It points to a different kind of relationship. The problem here is how feasible is it to cherry pick what you want from negotiations, there clearly has to be some compromise.
  2. Worker's rights are also at the fore front of Labour's manifesto. There is a pledge to replace the Great Repeal Bill with an EU Rights and Protections Bill. According to them, this will ensure that there is no detrimental change to the rights of workers as we change from EU laws to UK laws.
  3. Labour also promises that Parliament will have truly meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal. This is in a strong contrast to Theresa May who have tried to undermine Parliament's role in Brexit and her negotiations.
  4. An assurance that EU migrants in the UK will not be used as bargaining chips in the British negotiations as could be inferred by the Conservatives manifesto.
  5. Freedom of movement will cease to exist after Brexit.

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