Britain wants the broadest partnership with EU: May

U.K.’s Prime Minister Theresa May.

U.K.’s Prime Minister Theresa May.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS


PM, however, rules out remaining in the customs union

The United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) needed to face up to “hard facts” that neither side could have “exactly what we want”, British Prime Minister Theresa May warned on Friday, in a keenly awaited speech that followed a tumultuous week in Britain’s preparations to leave the union.

While the Prime Minister rejected remaining in a customs union, arguing that it would not respect the results of the June 2016 referendum, including the ability to negotiate trade agreements with other countries around the world, the government would be pushing for “the broadest and deepest possible partnership, covering more sectors and cooperating more fully than any Free Trade Agreement anywhere in the world today”. However, Britain and the EU’s access to each other’s market would inevitably be “less than it is now.”

Latest in such speeches

The speech was the latest in a series of crucial Brexit speeches made by Ms. May, including in Florence, Italy and Lancaster House in London, but was the most focussed on specifics, outlining Britain’s vision for the tailored kind of relationship it hoped to negotiate with the EU, including through sector-by-sector arrangements, and through binding commitments.

Britain could opt to commit to maintain areas of regulation around state aid and competition to be in step with Europe’s, alongside maintaining similar standards and protections when it came to workers rights and environmental standards.

“The fact is that every Free Trade Agreement has varying market access depending on the respective interests of the countries involved. If this is cherry-picking, then every trade arrangement is cherry-picking,” she told the gathering of journalists, politicians and industry organisations at Mansion House in central London.

Northern Ireland issue

The Prime Minister also addresses the issue of Northern Ireland, on which there has been increasing focus, with Labour pegging its decision to push for a customs union with the EU on the need to resolve the issue in a way that maintained the hard fought for peace process.

Ms. May reiterated that a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland as well as a customs and regulatory border between the island and the rest of the U.K. would be unacceptable.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 5:29:51 AM |

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