UK PM May defends 'credible' Brexit plan

Michele Moreno
March 6, 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May has told the British people that they have to face "hard facts" about Brexit, warning that the United Kingdom will have less access to European Union markets once it leaves the bloc.

She is facing calls to clearly outline what Britain expects to achieve in the negotiations - and how it expects the future relationship to work.

It was striking in this speech how much of the current relationship Mrs May wants to keep - staying close, for example, to European Union regulatory agencies, to environmental and consumer protection laws, and to European Union policies on state aid and fair competition.

Arguably, it was one of her best Brexit speeches so far, at least since those heady days when she campaigned for Remain.

Mrs May has rejected Brussels proposals that would see Northern Ireland kept in an effective customs union with the EU as a fallback in case other solutions can not be found. They accuse Britain of wanting to cherry-pick benefits of European Union membership without any of the responsibilities.

The speech avoided major rows within the Conservative Party at home despite Mrs May's apparent warning to hardline Brexiteers to temper their expectations, acknowledging that neither side would get "exactly what we want" in talks on the future UK/EU relationship. There are two areas that have never been covered in a free-trade agreement in any meaningful way before: "broadcasting services".

Setting out her thinking in more detail, May said the financial services sector was too important to the British economy for Brussels to retain control of it under the existing'passporting' arrangement. "Then they're cherry picking in every trade agreement they put forward".

And she rejected chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier's argument that her "red lines" on quitting the single market, customs union and European Court of Justice have left only the option of a Canada-style free trade agreement, insisting that Brussels needs to "look beyond the precedents, and find a new balance".

With (Other OTC: WWTH - news) an Italian election and a vote on a German coalition due on Sunday, investors have also been reluctant to take on any new large positions. Miles Celic of financial services lobby group TheCityUK described it as "ambitious and pragmatic".

"We welcome this serious speech by the Prime Minister which is a step towards an ambitious free-trade agreement". First of all that the European Union is going to accept a cherry picked arrangement where we pick what we want and leave the rest, possible but unlikely.

Britain and the bloc have promised there will be no customs posts or other impediments along the 310-mile (500 kilometer) border.

In mentioning broadcasting in the same breath as Britain's trillion-dollar financial services sector, May put it firmly on the agenda in her government's ongoing, hard Brexit negotiations with the E.U. Much of the focus of the talks concern the movement of people, goods, and services between Britain and the 27 E.U. countries post-Brexit.

"My message to our friends in Europe is clear", she said.

She knows what she wants can not be delivered.

"There has been movement on the part of the UK Government - we've welcomed that - but it doesn't yet address the issue of principle at stake".

Other reports by Insurance News

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