So, what will be in the UK’s Article 50 letter? Boris Johnson had previously implied that the document would set out the UK’s aims for the negotiations, detailing the kind of relationship that this country wants with the EU in the future. But Chris Grayling just told Robert Peston that when Theresa May triggers Article 50, which she has said she will do before the end of March next year, she won’t set out the UK’s negotiating position.
If this is the case, it is a mistake. Business and industry need to have a sense of, at least, what the UK government is trying to achieve. Without that, it will end up assuming the worst case scenario. It is also foolish to assume that a diplomatic negotiation can be conducted entirely in secret when some on the other side are trying to put the worst possible spin on the UK’s position as they attempt to poach investment from this country.
On airports, Grayling was keen to stress that he had been impressed by all three proposals—which will stoke the sense that both a Heathrow and a Gatwick option might be put forward to the Commons by the government. Grayling would not rule out Tory MPs being given a free vote on the matter which suggests that this is what likely to happen to get around the Boris and Justine Greening problem.