David Davis’ Vienna Speech was bland and lacking in detail

Labour Party

Brexit Secretary, David Davis, today delivered his Vienna speech outlining that the UK is in the best possible shape to make Brexit work. So confident was he that he promised that the UK won’t plunge into a dystopian Mad Max style world. Any such claims are unfounded, he said.

He went on to dismiss such suggestions stating it was based on nothing: “not our history or our shared interest.” But overall his message appeared to be the UK Government wants (and expects to get) its cake and eat it. Davis also asked for the UK to be trusted, but that trust is not in great supply at the moment – and as we all know trust is an important currency.

Davis’ speech continued by rejecting the idea that leaving the EU will mean a race to the bottom, in terms of workers’ rights and environmental protections.

However, while Davis delivered his speech, the Dutch Government announced it was activating plans for a ‘hard Brexit’ due to the lack of clarity from the UK which, it said, is “impeding negotiations”.

The Dutch Government is right, there is both a lack of vision and planning for the task ahead. This is an accusation the UK is unable to deny, and is the reason Theresa May is convening her Cabinet to discuss the future direction.

The Dutch Government is, unlike the UK, prepared. It understands what is required to ensure the impact of Brexit is kept to a minimum. For example, in readiness for the new rules on trade the Dutch Government is preparing its infrastructure by employing 1000 extra customs officers, so it can cope with the additional burden that will result from the border checks. In other words, they have a clear understanding and recognise precisely what it means to leave the European Union.

In contrast the Home Office has been very clear that it’s not anywhere near ready to put in the border checks or the additional immigration checks which are going to be required. In a word, it’s just chaotic.

Davis says we will work with other EU countries to drive standards, but this is muddy at best. The UK is not only unclear about what it wants, but much of what it wants is impossible to achieve.

Let’s not forget the words of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier who said last year: “The UK wants to take back control, it wants to adopt its own standards and regulations. But it also wants to have these standards recognised automatically in the EU. That is what UK papers ask for. This is simply impossible. You cannot be outside the single market and shape its legal order.”