Does the early General Election make a soft Brexit more likely?

Sadiq Khan To Phase Out Boris Johnson's Routemaster Buses
A big Tory majority will likely dilute the influence of hard-line Brexiteers, but also of opposition parties (Source: Getty)

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, says Yes.

Whether Brexit ends up being hard or soft obviously depends on a whole lot more than whether Theresa May has a bigger parliamentary majority than the one she currently enjoys. We’re dealing, after all, with 27 member states and a very complex set of trade-offs.

That said, as we’ve seen since July last year when May first took over as Prime Minister, she’s had to talk pretty tough – and probably much tougher than she, as a pragmatic politician keen to do a decent deal rather than walk away empty-handed, has really wanted to. Much of that was about reassuring her Eurosceptic ultras.

After a General Election that looks set to bring in a bunch of new (and at least initially grateful) Tory MPs, the Prime Minister can certainly hope that the influence of the so-called headbangers sitting behind her will be diluted. Hopefully, that will mean she can focus now on getting the sensible deal that most people, whatever they voted in the referendum, really want.

Mark Wallace, executive editor of ConservativeHome, says No.

Soft Brexit is a fantasy. The idea was invented to offer the false hope that the result could be honoured without meaningfully leaving the EU.

As Theresa May said yesterday, there’s only one type of Brexit: regaining control of our money, our laws and our borders. To unite her party, fulfil the referendum and capitalise on Ukip’s collapse, the Prime Minister will maintain that line in her election campaign.

And all the signs are that she will win, securing the mandate she wants. Labour is poorly led, deeply divided and confused about its response to Brexit, and May is already out to define the election as a choice between her strength and Jeremy Corbyn’s weakness.

There is no hard or soft Brexit, there is only Brexit or no Brexit. The latter would require a Tim Farron victory. Yes, the Liberal Democrats might make gains by casting themselves as a pro-EU version of Ukip, appealing to the grievances of Continuity Remain. But their leader won’t be the next Prime Minister.

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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