Whitehall won’t talk of soft or hard deal

OFFICIALS have been told that the phrases “soft” and “hard” Brexit are not acceptable as civil service language because its role is to provide “impartial advice” on quitting the EU.

Lord Blencathra, who asked for clarity on the terms in Parliament, said he did not believe there was such a thing as hard or soft Brexit – “there is staying in the EU or leaving”.

He questioned whether Department of Health civil servants used the terms in official briefing papers and was told by health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy they were not. 

“The terms ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ are commonly used outside the Civil Service and within discussions around EU exit,” said Lord O’Shaughnessy, But he added: 

“The role of the Civil Service is to provide impartial advice and to deliver Government policy, and it is focused on delivering this Government’s commitment to leave the EU and get the very best deal for the UK.”

Speaking afterwards, Lord Blencathra said: “The so-called soft Brexit people say that they accept the decision of the people but that we must stay in the Single market. That is not leaving. 

They want us to stay in the Customs Union.

That is not leaving. They want the despicable, political EU court to make our laws. That is not leaving. “We, as leavers, have failed to expose their propaganda and the use of these deliberately misleading terms.

Thus they try to make it sound that getting out of the Single Market, Customs Union and EU Court is a “hard Brexit” which will damage Britain and that the people did not vote for that. “Yes we did.” John Longworth, Co-chair of Leave Means Leave, agreed, saying: “There is no hard and soft Brexit.

There is leaving the EU and there is remaining in the EU. Remain campaigners are trying to distract the British people with these terms.

If Britain leaves the EU which means leaving the single market and the customs union, taking back control of our borders, money and laws then that is Brexit.

Anything less is not a soft Brexit – it is the ultimate deceit.” 

A row broke out last week after Business Minister Lord Prior declared that the UK was heading for the “softest of soft Brexit”.

He also told a meeting of insurance industry figures that they “shouldn’t be worried” about “barriers to entry” for prospective future employees coming from the EU.

A “soft Brexit” is claimed by Remainers to be necessary for the economy, while they allege a “hard Brexit” is all about control of immigration. Downing Street rejects the hard and soft labels.

July 23rd, 2017: Express