Theresa May has said the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”. But the prime minister promised to push for the “greatest possible” access to the single market following Brexit. In a long-awaited speech, she also announced Parliament would get a vote on the final deal agreed between the UK and the European Union. And Mrs May promised an end to the UK’s “vast contributions” to the EU. But Labour said there were “enormous dangers” in the prime minister’s plans. Mrs May used her much-anticipated speech to announce the UK’s priorities for Brexit negotiations, including:
- Maintaining the common travel area between the UK and Irish Republic
- Tariff-free trade with the EU
- A customs agreement with the EU
- New trade agreements with countries outside the EU
- Continued “practical” sharing of intelligence and policing information
- “Control” of immigration rights for EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU
- A “phased approach”
Mrs May said there would not be a “blow-by-blow” account of negotiations, set to get under way after Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked by the end of March. It was not her intention to “undermine” the EU or the single market, she added.
But she warned the EU against a “punitive” reaction to Brexit, as it would mean “calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe and it would not be the act of a friend”.
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