This morning #Theresa May faces the same fate as many embattled politicians before her: a leaked secret recording.
During a secret meeting with Goldman Sachs on May 26th, the then-Home Secretary privately warned companies would leave the UK in the aftermath of a vote for #Brexit. She also warned that the UK would be worse off in terms of security, citing the European arrest warrant and information sharing between agencies as key reasons to stay in the EU. Her opinions on the tape contrast sharply with her statements in recent weeks where she has promised a hard Brexit and no second referendum.
What she said: the economy and security
During an hour-long session before London's banking elite, May argued for remaining in the EU: “I think the economic arguments are clear. I think being part of a 500-million trading bloc is significant for us." She echoed the fears of many in big business and banking about companies deserting the UK after the Brexit vote, stating, "One of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in #Europe. If we were not in Europe, I think there would be firms and companies who would be looking to say, do they need to develop a mainland Europe presence rather than a UK presence?" Conversely, in recent weeks, the Prime Minister has spoken about prioritising immigration control over retaining access to Europe's single market.
May also claimed, "There are definitely things we can do as members of the European Union that I think keep us more safe," such as using European arrest warrants and sharing information between police and intelligence agencies around Europe. These candid private views could prove embarrassing for the former Home Secretary, who was often criticised for lying low during the debate on the Brexit referendum.
This week, the PM has faced criticism from all angles over ambiguity in negotiating a so-called 'hard-Brexit.' After Monday's meeting between the PM and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Sturgeon spoke of her "frustration" at the lack of a Brexit negotiation strategy. The leaked tape may explain some of that frustration; it's difficult to pin down a national strategy for Brexit when the message being delivered publicly is so different from the messages floating around the corridors of power in London.
On the political right, her calculated shift towards 'hard-Brexit' language seemed to appease many who believed May, a 'Remainer' was not up for the job of negotiating the UK's withdrawal from the EU. This tape will hardly soothe tensions in that shaky union between the Conservatives and Brexit nationalists who want to see Article 50 triggered immediately.
May has also been criticised for her statement that the government would not 'give a running commentary' on Brexit negotiations. The recording is sure to raise questions as to why American bankers in the City are in the know about politicians' views, while the remainder of UK voters have been left to guess.