UK to Leave EU Single Market

Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street  in London, ahead of her speech on Brexit.Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street  in London, ahead of her speech on Brexit.

Britain will leave the European Union’s single market but will “seek greatest possible access to it” as it exits the bloc, Theresa May announced.

In a highly anticipated speech, the UK prime minister said on Tuesday that it was necessary to make a clean break and not opt for anything that “leaves us half-in, half-out” because that would mean “not leaving the EU at all”, Al Jazeera reported.

The UK will not “hold on to bits of membership”, nor seek associate or partial membership of the bloc, she said announcing her plans, but promised that Britain’s Parliament would get to vote on a final Brexit deal.

“I can confirm today that the government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both houses of parliament before it comes into force,” May said.

The country would seek a “phased process” for leaving the EU following two years of formal negotiations to “avoid a disruptive cliff edge” for businesses, she said, adding that she would start the procedures by the end of March.

“It is in no one’s interests for there to be a cliff edge for business or a threat to stability, as we change our existing relationship to a new partnership with the EU,” May said.

“By this, I do not mean that we will seek some form of unlimited transitional status in which we find ourselves stuck forever in some kind of permanent political purgatory.”

May also said the UK would seek a “new and equal partnership” with Europe.

“We see a new and equal partnership between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU,” she said.

May said the UK would guarantee the rights of EU citizens who were already living in Britain and the rights of the British nationals in other member states.

However, she added: “Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe.”

Gabriel Siles-Brugge, a lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick, said May’s plans for the new deal with the EU were highly unrealistic.

“What’s particularly interesting is that she has talked about some sort of a new membership to the customs union, which involves not having to accept the common commercial policy and not having to accept the common external tariffs,” he said.

“Basically Britain would have some sort of an arrangement whereby it participates in the customs union but in a sense not be bound by all of its rules. I think that is a very unlikely arrangement to be possible to be agreed.”

A majority of British voters decided to leave the EU in a referendum in June last year.


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