According to the former EU Commissioner Lord Peter Mandelson, prime minister Theresa May has opted to "appease" Brexit supporting right-wing newspapers rather than seeking the best exit deal for the British public. The former Labour cabinet minister lambasted the prime minster's EU' exit strategy ahead of her landmark speech today.

Avoiding tough decisions

Moreover, Lord Mandelson accused May of "ducking the difficult choices", suggesting that there was a division opening up between Ms. May and her Chancellor Phillip Hammond over her determination to leave the European Union's single market.

Lord Mandelson said that May could have made different choices which wouldn't have placed Britain's interests at risk "but then she [May] would have had to face her cheerleaders at the Daily Mail or The Sun".

In contrast to Lord Peter Mandelson's frustrations with the prime minister, Ukip's new leader Paul Nutall declared his fondness of Theresa May by praising the job she has done so far. "I like what I'm hearing, her words are giving me confidence that we are going to have a clean break with the European Union". Lord Mandelson continued to suggest that "the chancellor and many members of the cabinet" were opposed to leaving the single market and customs union.

A hard Brexit

"May is pretending that the difficult choices the government has to make simply don't exist.

If she doesn't know what a hard Brexit is, let me tell her what it is. It's when U.K. goods suddenly face tariffs of as much as ten percent or more in our biggest export market, it is when new customs barriers add cost and delays to exports. A hard Brexit is when financial and other services can't access the EU market because EU regulators don't accept the equivalent of the new UK regulatory scheme".

The comments came on Radio 4's Today programme before Theresa May set out a list of twelve negotiating priorities for withdrawal talks. Those negotiating priorities are:

  • Certainty and a vote in parliament
  • Control of our own laws
  • Strengthen the Union
  • Prevent a hard border with Ireland
  • Control immigration
  • Guarantees to European citizens living in Britain
  • Protect workers' rights
  • Quit EU single market
  • Quit full customs union membership
  • A deal on science on tech
  • Co-operation on fighting crime and terrorism
  • A "phased" agreement BEYOND March 2019