A year ago Britain voted to leave the European Union. Nigel Farage called it Britain’s “independence day”. Around half of voters support Brexit – according to YouGov – and want it to happen, so may well be tempted to join him in celebrating this anniversary today. Others will be less keen. David Cameron resigned soon after the vote last June, reportedly telling allies that he didn’t want to do the “ hard s***” needed, so that task has been taken on by his successor Theresa May. She has been away in Brussels for the second day of a summit with her fellow EU leaders, where she has been trying to win them around with her “fair and serious offer” of giving Europeans who arrived in Britain before the triggering of Article 50 the right to stay permanently post-Brexit.
Her fellow EU leaders have been lukewarm in their response. Donald Tusk, declared that it was “below our expectations and risks worsening the situation of citizens.” Jean-Claude Juncker thought it was not up to the EU’s standard, adding: “this step is not sufficient.” Danish premier Mark Rutte thought there were “thousands of questions to ask”. Peter Foster has identified five (not thousands) areas where questions remain, such as when the “cut-off” date would be for this offer. This pledge depends on the EU side making a similar offer to British expats in Europe, and it will be set out in greater detail on Monday in a formal paper.
The Prime Minister also had to deny claims made by George Osborne in his Evening Standard newspaper that she had – as Home Secretary – blocked an attempt by David Cameron to guarantee EU citizens rights following the Brexit vote. “That is certainly not my recollection,” she said. Tom Harris feels her pledge was “ better late than never”, although Leo McKinstry worries that she “ has revealed her willingness to give the EU much of what it wants”.
Further clashes are inevitable, as Mrs May rejected EU demands that that the European Court of Justice should continue to oversee the rights of European migrants after Brexit. Fraser Nelson suggests in today’s paper that if the Prime Minister really wants to make a “success” of Brexit, she should remember why people voted for it. “It was about retrieving sovereignty while managing immigration better, disengaging from the European Union while finding better ways to be good Europeans,” he writes. “This is not about a hard Brexit or soft Brexit – neither of which mean anything – but an open Brexit, one that lets Britain better engage with the rest of the world. A rather compelling agenda, and one that’s still there for the taking.”
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