Follow Us:

Britain will leave the EU single market: Theresa May

IANS | London |

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain was to leave the European Union's single market but would pursue ambitious new trade agreements.

During her eagerly-awaited Plan for Britain speech at Lancaster House in London on Tuesday, the Conservative leader outlined the government's 12-point program of goals they hoped to achieve during the negotiation period.

May said retaining Britain's access to the single market was not an option as it would not control immigration to Britain from Europe and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, Efe news reported.

The British leader said, however, that the UK would "pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union."

May also said the final Brexit deal struck between the UK and EU would be submitted to a vote in both chambers of Parliament.

She called for the greatest possible access to the single market on a reciprocal basis that would afford British companies the maximum freedom to operate within Europe and let European companies do the same in the UK. But she also wanted to foment trade agreements, unfettered by EU oversight, with the rest of the world.

"I want us to be a truly Global Britain — the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too," May said.

Britain is to leave the EU Customs Union, the PM said, in order to set its own trade tariffs at the World Trade Organization.

She added that a new EU-Britain customs agreement should be drawn up.

The Conservative leader said Britain wanted to remain close to its European allies, but warned that punitive measures taken by the EU during the negotiation period would be "an act of calamitous self-harm."

"I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain," said the PM.

As well as striking up new trade agreements with the EU, May said the government would pursue greater cohesion between the four nations of Britain and guarantee free travel across Britain's only land border with the EU between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The PM vowed greater control over immigration from the EU to Britain but said the government sought to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain, as well as British expats in Europe, as soon as possible.

May has said the government planned to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty — the mechanism that invokes a two-year negotiation period for a nation ceding from the bloc — by late March 2017.