Bespoke and not off the shelf

Theresa May and cabinet colleagues at Chequers meeting Image copyright PA

So we now know it won't be an off-the-shelf Brexit deal, there won't be any EU membership by the back door and controlling immigration will be a priority.

The first cabinet meeting at Chequers after the holidays hardly offered a detailed set of objectives but at least we have something to work on after a summer of silence.

We were also left in no doubt that it will be the UK government that will guide the decision making, rather than any potential veto from the devolved nations, or even a parliamentary vote.

It seems to me that some kind of bespoke arrangement will make it more difficult to remain in the single market.

If that is the case, it will not go down well with the first minister who this week set out the free movement of goods and services as his one and only red line for negotiations.


The rest was all up for discussion at a post-summer news conference which was dominated by Brexit. No doubt a sign of things to come.

His chief concern is inward investment before he jets off to Chicago to try to sell Wales abroad.

The first minister will enthusiastically sign up to the UK government's call for Britain to be an unashamedly outward-looking country.

But he will do so at a time when he won't be able to answer so many of the questions the Americans will want to know about the UK's relationship with the EU.

Image caption Carwyn Jones has said it is fundamental that the UK gets access to the single market

Carwyn Jones's attitude to the referendum result is mixed.

On the one hand, like Theresa May, he is unequivocal that there should not be a second referendum, and that the official talks should begin in the early part of next year.

And yet, on the other hand, he is relatively downbeat regarding prospects, pinning everything on our membership of the single market.

This could turn out to be misplaced considering how closely aligned the single market is with the free movement of labour, which must now be in doubt after Downing Street said the focus of the cabinet had been controlling immigration.

In contrast, the Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns appears to have responded to the result with all the gusto of a Brexiteer, even though he voted to remain.

He wasted no time in calling for dramatic changes in the way that future funding to regenerate the south Wales valleys should be designed and implemented.


And this week he dismissed the doom and gloom predictions as he celebrated the latest inward investment figures, showing a 7% rise in the creation of new jobs.

But we still know very little about where Alun Cairns stands on the central issue of our membership of the single market and whether leaving it is a price worth paying in order to bring down immigration.

It would be good to know how the man who represents Wales around the cabinet table feels about this, but so far at least he has been reluctant to go public on the basis that it is unwise to reveal your negotiating hand in public.

Still so many questions.