Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to pull Britain out of the European Union’s single market while a new arrangement on the customs union, saying the U.K. parliament will get a vote on the final Brexit deal.
Giving her most explicit outline yet of her vision of Britain post-Brexit and how she wants to get there, May said that she was confident a deal can be reached with the EU that avoids disruption to business. With the trigger to quit the bloc due to be invoked by the end of March, May called for a “phased approach” to implementing the new rules that will seek “a smooth and orderly Brexit.”
The pound climbed against the dollar and was set for its biggest advance since the global crisis as May laid out her plans in a speech to diplomats in London that was broadcast live in European countries including Germany.
“I can confirm today that the government will put the final deal that’s agreed between the U.K. and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force,” she said on Tuesday.
May offered a series of red lines for the coming talks:
- “What I’m proposing can’t mean membership of the single market.” Staying in the single market “would mean to all intents and purposes not leaving the EU at all”
- “I do want us to have a customs agreement with the EU. I want Britain to be free to reach our own tariff schedules at the WTO”
- She said she wants to be able to negotiate new trade deals
- She wants transitional arrangements for financial services
- No more “huge” U.K. contributions to the EU budget
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier commended May for providing “a bit more clarity” about her government’s plans and for seeking strong ties with the EU.
“But our stance remains that the negotiations will only begin when Britain has officially announced its wish to leave” the EU, he said in statement.
May dodged a question on what would happen if the U.K. parliament rejects the deal that she manages to reach with her EU counterparts, saying only that she expects lawmakers to back it.
“The British parliament voted overwhelmingly for this to be a choice of the British people, the British parliament recently voted overwhelmingly effectively for the government to get on with it,” May said. “I’m sure the British parliament will want to deliver on the views of the British people and respect the democratic decision that was taken.”
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