Richard North, 01/09/2016  

When the Prime Minister and her team met yesterday at Chequers, Mrs May confirmed that MPs will not be given a vote before her government triggers Article 50.

"There was a strong emphasis on pushing ahead to article 50 to lead Britain successfully out of the European Union – with no need for a parliamentary vote", Mrs May's spokeswoman said.

She then added: "Several cabinet members made it clear that we are leaving the EU but not leaving Europe, with a decisive view that the model we are seeking is one unique to the United Kingdom and not an off-the-shelf solution".

"This must mean controls on the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe but also a positive outcome for those who wish to trade goods and services".

What precisely this means isn't at all clear. But Charles Grant thinks he knows. Immigration controls, in his view, means Britain's Brexit deal would not be along the lines of that used for Norway or Switzerland. Instead, he argues, it puts the UK on track for a Canada-style agreement, with free trade for manufactured goods but not necessarily for services.

"People have been assuming there will have to be restrictions on immigration of some sort, either an emergency brake, or an Australian-style points system for European workers", says Grant.

"Whatever system we go for it is going to be unacceptable to our partners if we want access to the single market", he adds. "We will only have limited access to the single market and have to content ourselves with a free trade agreement, which would not cover many of our key services sectors including financial services".

In its own way, this is no more coherent than what is coming out of May's office. The only difference is that Grant is probably maliciously trying to confuse the issues – although one can never discount his profound ignorance on a wide variety of subjects, something he shares with the politicians.

But either way, we are none the wiser – not that we expected to be. We're still in a phoney war period. Reality can't be far away but, clearly, it's not here yet.

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