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Theresa May to make major Brexit speech next week

IANS | London |

British Prime Minister Theresa May will unveil more on her Brexit strategy in her long-awaited speech next Tuesday that will be keenly watched globally for the country's future ties with Europe and its resolve to remain a global and outward-looking nation.

May, who assumed office after David Cameron resigned following the Brexit vote, has been under pressure to unveil more details on the UK's plan to leave the European Union (EU) and had told a Parliamentary committee last month that she would be making a speech on the issue early in the New Year.

"She will be making a speech on Tuesday, setting out more on our approach to Brexit, as part of preparing for the negotiations, and in line with our approach of global Britain and continuing to be an outward-looking nation," her spokesperson said yesterday.

According to UK media reports, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit secretary David Davis have been involved in drawing up the contents of the speech.

The government is still awaiting a Supreme Court judgement on whether it must consult Parliament before triggering Article 50, which May has said she wants to do by the end of March. The verdict is expected later in the month.

May had told MPs on Parliament's Liaison Committee in December: "I will be making a speech early in the New Year setting out more about our approach and about the opportunity I think we have as a country to use this process to forge a truly global Britain that embraces and trades with countries across the world." 

The speech will be keenly studied for indications on Britain's plan for its future relationship with Europe, with curbs on the freedom of movement of people and access to the single market being the key concerns.

"We will, outside the European Union, be able to have control of immigration and be able to set our rules for people coming to the UK from member states of the European Union. We also, as part of that Brexit deal, will be working to get the best possible deal in the trading relationship with the European Union. Anybody who looks at this question of free movement and trade as a sort of zero-sum game is approaching it in the wrong way," May had said in her first interview of the year with 'Sky News' over the weekend.

It will be hoped that some of the uncertainty about how the government will conduct exit negotiations with the EU will be tackled in the speech ahead of invoking Article 50, which will trigger a two-year period for the negotiations to be completed.