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Are hardcore Remainers deluding themselves that the government’s Brexit strategy is in crisis?

Tim Worstall
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Some have interpreted Sir Ivan Rogers' resignation as a crisis for the government (Source: Getty)

Tim Worstall, senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, and author of Chasing Rainbows: Economic Myths, Environmental Facts, says Yes.

To claim that anyone’s Brexit strategy is in crisis is to misunderstand what a strategy is. It is the goal that you have decided to reach.

Britain’s strategy in World War II was the unconditional surrender of Germany – everything else was tactics. Hulk’s strategy is “Smash!”. Britain’s strategy with respect to Brexit is: “Thank you, it’s been great, we’re leaving. Maybe we can do lunch some day?” Everything else is simply tactics.

Do we stay in the Single Market? The Customs Union? Allow free movement? These are all tactical decisions – ones we cannot possibly make until we know what cost the EU will impose for each. My own prediction is that the cost of staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union will be free movement – the one price we’ve said we’re not willing to pay. As every general knows, tactics are to be dealt with by junior officers.

Having voted to leave the EU, the strategy has been set. We must now let the junior officers get on with it.

Sam Cunningham, partner at Westminster Public Affairs, says No.

The confusion and crisis continues. When someone of Sir Ivan Rogers’s seniority, stature and experience – and who was central to the negotiations – is prepared to issue a stinging broadside confirming that not even he knows the objectives of Brexit, it’s a sign of just how little preparedness there is at the highest levels of government.

To make Brexit a success requires both an intellectually coherent approach to negotiations, and crucially, an open-mindedness by ministers to listen to the experts who are paid to offer their counsel and wisdom. Sir Ivan’s departure and his remarks suggest this is not yet happening, just weeks away from Article 50 being triggered.

Unless the government can create a co-operative team culture, they have little chance of delivering a winning strategy. The Prime Minister declared she wants a “red, white and blue” Brexit, but this latest calamity suggests that a bruising black and blue exit for the UK is a much more likely outcome.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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