Like it or not, the Conservative party look set to win the British general election on June 8th.
If they do, the manifesto released today will serve as a blueprint for the next five years of Tory rule.
Pledges include balancing the budget by 2025, a commitment to bring net immigration down to ‘tens of thousands’ per year, means testing the ‘winter fuel allowance,’ scrapping the pensions ‘triple lock,’ and a vote in the House of Commons on whether to repeal the ban on fox hunting.
But with Theresa May strapped in for five more years in the hot seat, how exactly would the Tories deliver on their promise of negotiating a Brexit that ‘works for all’?
At today’s manifesto launch in Halifax, May emphasised her need for the ‘strongest possible hand’ in the Brexit negotiations in order to ‘take back control of our money, border and laws’ and to ‘forge a new deep and special partnership with Europe.’
The manifesto also states the Conservative party belief that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK.’
The manifesto pledges to:
Leave the European Single Market and Customs Union.
Seek a free trade and customs agreement with the EU.
Evaluate whether to stay in specific European programmes and, if so, continue to pay for membership.
Agree the terms of Britain’s future partnership ‘alongside our withdrawal,’ concluding all talks within the 2 years allowed by Article 50.
One of the European Parliament’s ‘Red Lines on Brexit’ is that the UK can not negotiate trade terms before finalising the terms of the split with the EU.
Enact the ‘Great Repeal Bill,’ allowing laws to be made in the UK.
‘Convert EU law into UK law,’ giving British courts the right to amend or repeal.
Cut immigration to under 10,000.
‘Bear down’ on immigration from outside the EU.
Introduce an policy to control immigration from inside the EU.
The Conservative party has been criticised for not fully costing their Brexit plans, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon admitting on BBC Newsnight that the plan to reduce immigration to ‘tens of thousands’ hadn’t been costed.
He went on to say that it was an ambition, not a proposal, but that the target would be easier to achieve once the UK isn’t constrained by freedom of movement, which currently means that ‘anybody in Bulgaria and Lithuania can up sticks and come here.’
‘Toughen visa requirements for students.’
‘Expect students to leave the country at the end of their course, unless they meet new, higher requirements allowing them to work in Britain.’
Increase levies on British companies for employing ‘other workers’ where British people could be hired.
Continue to include overseas students in immigration statistics (unlike Labour).
Have ‘as frictionless a border as possible’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.’
Defend Gibraltar as a British overseas territory.
‘Seek to replicate all existing EU free trade agreements.’
‘Support the ratification of trade agreements entered into during our EU membership.’
‘Introduce a Trade Bill in the next parliament.’
‘Create a network of Trade Commissioners to head nine new regional overseas posts.’
‘Reconvene the Board of Trade to ensure an increase in exports from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.’
And finally, maintain the UK’s commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights for the duration of the next parliament.’
‘I can get a deal that works for all.’
In today’s speech, Mrs. May emphasised – as she has done throughout the campaign – the importance of her own personal role in the fate of the country.
‘Brexit will define us’ opens the Conservative manifesto, but most of all it will define Theresa May, and her legacy as Prime Minister.