POLITICS
20/04/2017 18:29 BST

Brexit Briefing: This Election Changes Nothing

Stay on target

All you need to know from the world of Brexit this week.

1) The Campaign Will About Brexit, But the Election Is About Everything But Brexit

In a matter of weeks, this Brexit Briefing could be radically different. Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn, working alongside Minister For Exiting the EU Tim Farron, may well be tearing up all of Theresa May’s Brexit plans, and happily agree to keeping the UK in the Single Market, retaining freedom of movement of workers and locking us into the customs union.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s run with the hypothesis that the Tories are going to win the election.

Would an increased majority for Theresa May actually change the UK’s Brexit negotiating position?

A majority of 50 to 100 MPs would enable May to push through the exact kind of hard Brexit she has been promising. Yet seeing as Labour has already suggested it will back the kind of Brexit she is proposing, Corbyn won’t call a second referendum, and opposition in the Lords is more smoke than fire, May already had a relatively smooth path through Parliament for any deal.

Alternatively, a larger Tory party in the Commons might help dilute the influence of the powerful Eurosceptic lobby on May’s backbenches. Yet there is no guarantee that a new wave of Tory MPs would slavishly back May if she tries to pursue a softer Brexit – perhaps with less immigration controls then some hardcore Leavers would like. Since 2010, newly-elected MPs are increasingly more likely to defy the party whip.

So if Parliament is not a problem, and an increased majority might not strengthen May’s position, why call an election?

Maybe it’s not about Brexit at all, but the fact May is tied to 2015 manifesto which rules out tax rises, locks her into reducing immigration to below 100,000 and makes no pledge to increase the number of grammar schools.

2) The UK Election Will Take Place In The Phoney War Stage Of The Brexit Negotiations

European leaders broadly welcomed the General Election. It may be unfashionable to believe opinion polls, but the expectation is that the person they are currently negotiating with will not change after June 8 – and there will be a greater clarity to the UK’s Brexit aims.

European Council President Donald Tusk compared the surprise announcement to an Alfred Hitchcock film, while the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said the election gave Brits a chance to “express themselves” over Brexit.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani met with Theresa May in Downing Street today, and he too welcomed the June 8 vote: “To have a new government before the beginning of the official negotiations I think is good not only for the UK but also for us because we will have for the next years the same prime minister, the same ministers, the same negotiator.”

The timetable for Brexit hasn’t changed, and with France also embroiled in an election campaign, little time has been lost from the actual negotiations.

3) Remember How We Need Low-Skilled Migrants? Well, We Need High-Skilled Ones As Well

While the politicians are having their fun and games with Brexit, the reality of what the UK economy will look like once we leave the EU is still being investigated.

The impact of a more restrictive immigration policy is one of the main concerns, especially in the low-skilled sectors of the economy.

But it is also the high-skilled areas which could suffer, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). 

The body warns that a chronic under-investment in skills means the UK is “ill-prepared” for its post-Brexit future, with young people lagging well behind their peers in Europe when it comes to core skills.

It even claimed the UK is about to “sleepwalk into a low-value economy”. 

Analysis from the institute found that 16-24 year olds from England and Northern Ireland are ranked in the bottom four OECD countries for numeracy and literacy skills. 

CIPD skills adviser Lizzy Crowley said the report, which was written in response to the Government’s industrial strategy green paper, must act as a “real wake-up call” to “break with the past two decades of failed skills policy”. 

Leavers have consistently claimed the UK should be open to high-skilled migrants – and this explains why.

But if UK youngsters are unable to secure high-skilled jobs, and unwilling to take low-paid unskilled vocations, where does that leave the job market?

4) It’s Not All That Bad - Look At All The Things You Can’t Afford

There’s plenty of gloom in the air about because of Brexit (some of you may be thinking this briefing contributes a fair bit of it), but some are optimistic.

A survey published by Institute of Practitioners in Advertising shows that marketing budgets are on the rise – not falling as previously feared.

“Despite the current, turbulent digital ecosphere, it is clear that marketers are attracted to the cost-effectiveness of digital advertising and its ability to reach and accurately target their consumers,” said IPA’s director general Paul Bainsfair.

The report concludes spending on corporate advertising would increase 0.6 per cent in the current financial year, compared to a previous forecast of a 0.7 per cent decline.

The driving force behind the rise is an increase in online spending, particularly mobile-based advertising.

Of course, this briefing is sent to you ad-free, and in no way would I start plugging products in the shameless hope of getting sent freebies.

Isn’t this Ferrari nice though.

Don’t Get Angry, Get Blogging…

At Huffington Post we love a good blog, and here are the finest Brexit-penned entries from this week. Have a read, and if any of them provoke an urge in you to speak your brain, send us a blog and you could find yourself in this very newsletter.

Robin Lustig with an election tactical voting guide for Remainers 

Maxim Parr-Reid on why May not doing TV debates proves she can’t defend her Brexit plan 

Julien Tissandier on how the French election will affect Brexit negotiations 

Jackie Kemp with three reasons Brexit will lead to the break-up of the UK