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Theresa May's Brexit Speech To Reveal Prime Minister Wants UK To Leave Single Market

PM speech eyes clean Brexit strategy not 'half-in, half-out' EU.

17/01/2017 00:01 | Updated 17 January 2017

Theresa May will finally confirm the UK is to quit the single market when it leaves the European Union, announcing in a much-anticipated speech that she will resist being “half-in, half-out”.

The Prime Minister’s Brexit plan, which she is to spell out in 12 points, will set out a vision for an “independent, self-governing, Global Britain”.

Sections of the speech briefed to the media make no specific reference to the the European Single Market, the 28-bloc of countries that trade without tariffs.

Nor does it mention the customs union or the European Court of Justice, the other components that typically make up what is referred to as EU membership.

But her language is unequivocal:

“We seek a new and equal partnership - between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU.

“Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.

“We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.

“The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. My job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do.”

And the interpretation by newspapers couldn’t be clearer: 

Quitting the single market means the UK can reject the free movement of people, a major pillar of the EU, and in turn have full control of immigration, which has been one of the loudest demands among Brexiteers.  

May has for weeks stone-walled any questions on what her plan is beyond “Brexit means Brexit”. Her last major pronouncement was that triggering Article 50, kick-starting the formal two-year negotiations to leave, would take place before the end of April.

Today, she will set out 12 “negotiating priorities” and the “four key principles driving them”, which are:

  • Certainty and clarity
  • A Stronger Britain
  • A fairer Britain
  • A truly Global Britain

She will say:

“We have 12 objectives that amount to one big goal: a new, positive and constructive partnership between Britain and the European Union.

“And as we negotiate that partnership, we will be driven by some simple principles: we will provide as much certainty and clarity as we can at every stage.

“And we will take this opportunity to make Britain stronger, to make Britain fairer, and to build a more Global Britain too.”

The previews of the speech in the Sunday newspapers prompted another fall in the pound on Monday, though that may have been mitigated by Donald Trump backing a fresh trade deal between the UK and the US.

In an olive branch to Europe ahead of what will be fraught negotiations with the remaining 27 members of the EU, May will say:

“Our vote to leave the European Union was no rejection of the values we share. The decision to leave the EU represents no desire to become more distant to you, our friends and neighbours.
“We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends. We want to buy your goods, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.” 

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