The result of the UK's election is disappointing but created no mandate for watering down our exit from the European Union, it was secured both by the referendum in June of last year and the triggering of Article 50 in march. Making it not just the will of the Prime Minister but the will of the people and of the UK's democratically elected parliament.
Over 83 per cent of the vote went to 'Hard Brexit' parties, which combined account for over 90 per cent of the seats at Westminster. Brexit is not in doubt; its more sure than ever before and this election has therefore secured an unimpeachable mandate. All parties offering a second referendum, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP lost votes (and in the case of the SNP, lost seats as well).
Theresa May won the election, she'll go on to form a minority government with the aid of the DUP and with my disappointment she didn't receive a resounding endorsement of her Lancaster House Speech. What I think could result, is a cross-party commission (or talks) which will form an agreed position but that will require some compromise. Both major parties agree that Brexit must mean leaving the single market and both included this in their respective manifestos:
What I expect is for us to end up somewhere like Switzerland, outside the Customs Union, outside the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), outside the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice but rejoining the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) and replicating parts of single market membership with moderate financial contributions and bilateral treaties, instead of actual membership. Most crucially is that Switzerland is able to de-regulate its own economy, this is surely a compromise agreement that almost anyone can accept.
Britain itself, was once a member of EFTA before joining the EU and helped to form the organization in the 1960s. Its been most notably favored as an alternative to EU membership by Margaret Thatcher, Daniel Hannan and even by Nicola Sturgeon. Its my belief that the UK should also look toward membership of NAFTA.
As I indicated before the result is disappointing but the UK's negotiating position in Europe is still strong. The moment we leave the European Union we become its largest export market with a huge deficit in trade, our membership of FVEYs means that we cooperate and share information with Europole more than any other country (as May reminded Donald Tusk in her Article 50 letter), we maintain billions worth of assets in the European investment bank, and in the event of reverting to World Trade Organisation tariffs we retain the ability to drastically change the UK's economic model with swingeing cuts in regulation and corporation tax.
In addition, while this may seem an unpopular thing to say in the moments after the result, I hope the Prime Minister stays on to serve her full term. I still see no reason why she should leave. She secured the largest share of the vote since 1983 and is now the third most voted for Prime Minister in our history. She showed remarkable leadership in the Trident debate, her Lancaster speech and in her over sight of the Lord's debate on Article 50. I hope we see more of that during the negotiation period but her future as Prime Minister, I worry, survives only on borrowed time.