I see my brilliant new foreign secretary Dominic Raab has come up with a wheeze that our last manifesto expressly covered a no deal exit and hence we have a mandate to deliver it. Speaking to the BBC during a trip to Canada, he said: “Every Conservative stood on a manifesto which included the language and provision that no deal would be better than a bad deal. We didn’t rule out no deal, we specifically sought voters’ permission for that prospectus and that mandate.”
I thought that was very good, but wasn’t sure I remembered it that way – so got one of my minions to check it for me.
It is true that if you have the will power to read as far as pages 35/36 you will find a sentence “The negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, and there will be give and take on both sides, but we continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK” (that’s the only such reference in the entire document of 83 pages).
But apparently it also says –
“ 2. Brexit and a changing world. We need to deliver a smooth and orderly departure from the European Union and forge a deep and special partnership with our friends and allies across Europe”. (page 6 listing “5 Great Challenges)
“The best possible deal for Britain as we leave the European Union delivered by a smooth, orderly Brexit” (in bold large size font on page 30)
“We are leaving the European Union. We want to ensure our departure is smooth and orderly and to agree a deep and special partnership with the 27 remaining member states”. (page 31)
“The final agreement [i.e the exit agreement which will not exist in a no deal scenario] will be subject to a vote in both houses of parliament” (page 36).
“We believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside our withdrawal, reaching agreement on both within the two years allowed by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union” (page 36).
“With Theresa May and her team, we will secure the best possible deal with the European Union and chart a course to a new global future” (Conclusion page 84).
So I am not sure Dominic is quite on the money with this one!