Major warns against Brexit expectations
Former prime minister Sir John Major has warned against an 'unreal and over-optimistic' approach to Brexit. The FT's Henry Mance reports on this and other Brexit news.
Should Theresa May lower expectations? Is another referendum on Scottish independence almost inevitable? And are companies pausing their investments in the UK? Those were some of the main issues of Brexit controversy this week.
So John Major, the former prime minister, knows all about troublesome euro sceptics. On Monday, he made a speech saying he had growing concern that the British people were being led to expect a future that seems to be unreal and over optimistic. Sir John continued, "To avoid later recriminations, the British public need to be made aware now of the hurdles ahead."
Boris Johnson was unimpressed. The foreign secretary hit back, saying Brexit would be "fantastic," and that it was very important to be positive. However, Mr. Johnson also suggested negotiations with the EU could take longer than two years. They can play it long. Let's see how he goes, he said. Meanwhile, David Davis, the Brexit secretary, told ministers to start strengthening Britain's border and regulatory agencies in case Britain leaves the EU without a negotiated deal. He said such a scenario was unlikely.
The Financial Times reported this week that senior Scottish national party politicians now expect there to be a second referendum on independence as early as next year, and if not next year, then before Bush leaves the EU in mid-2019. This is a big headache for Theresa May. Potentially much bigger than ongoing wrangling over the Brexit bill in the House of Lords. If a Scottish referendum went ahead, it would almost certainly disturb the two-year timetable for Brexit negotiations. If Mrs. may refused Scotland the right to hold a referendum, she will probably inflame nationalist sentiment.
In January, the Scottish first minister Nichola Sturgeon said she wouldn't push for a quick referendum if the UK stayed in the single market. Shortly afterwards, the UK government then ruled that out. Theresa May's best hope now is that the opinion polls turn decisively against the SNP and against independence.
The engineering company Dyson has pledged to build a second research centre in the UK. Its founder, Sir James Dyson, was a big backer of the Leave campaign. He previously wanted to join the euro, but then became frustrated with EU rules on vacuum cleaners. The investment is good news for Brexiters, although there was no precise figure on it.
Those feeling cautious about economy could point to reports that carmakers Nissan and BMW could locate more production away from the UK after Brexit. Nissan refused to say that its plant at Sunderland was safe and called for government to spend 100 million pounds attracting component suppliers. One Nissan executives said that relying on WTO rules post-Brexit could be "pretty disastrous" and could cost the company 500 million pounds.
Filmed by Petros Gioumpasis. Produced by Alessia Giustiniano.