British PM sets out post-Brexit trade vision

Howard TerryMar 04, 2018

Setting out her desire for a deal "tailored to the needs of our economies", Mrs May insisted that all free trade agreements offer varying market access depending on the interests of the countries involved.

Theresa May has also took an opportunity to vow for real change that Britain voted for in 2016 to finally occur, with jobs and safety well defended.

However, for the first time the prime minister also accepted that her plans to leave the single market will mean restricted access to European markets for United Kingdom businesses.

"There have been many different views and voices on the debate and I've listened carefully to them all", May said.

"Fourth, it must be consistent with the kind of country we want to be as we leave: a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy; a nation of pioneers, innovators, explorers and creators; a country that celebrates our history and diversity, confident of our place in the world; that meets its obligations to our near neighbours and far off friends, and is proud to stand up for its values".

"I'm afraid this doesn't really advance us very much", said Michael Leigh, a former European Commission director general and senior fellow at the Geman Marshall Fund in Brussels.

Alternatively, the prime minister said, there could be a technological solution that could make customs checks unnecessary on the island of Ireland and elsewhere.

"It is not the final agreement and, perhaps not surprisingly, Mrs May has already pushed back on the text during Prime Minister's Questions, particularly in respect to the detail on the agreed "backstop" option of Northern Ireland remaining in the EU customs union", notes Hann-Ju Ho, an economist with Lloyds Bank.

"More is needed to lift the fog of uncertainty and we welcome the PM's call to "get on with it". We must not only negotiate our exit from an organization that touches so many important parts of our national life, we must also build a new and lasting relationship while, given the uncertainty inherent in this negotiation, preparing for every scenario".

"I believe that is achievable because it is in the EU's interests as well as ours and because of our unique starting point, where on day one we both have the same laws and rules".

The task will be to do that whilst moving to separate legal systems.

The prime minister's "road to Brexit" speech is the latest in a series of interventions on Brexit by senior members of her government and comes after a week which has seen tensions rising inside her party on the issue.

The NFU has warned that Brexit negotiations "must deliver" for the food and farming industry as Theresa May admits that "no-one will get everything they want" out of European Union withdrawal.

Mrs May said that in chemicals, aviation and medicine, Britain would seek to abide by European Union regulation, and she proposed a streamlined Customs partnership with the same tariffs at the border for goods sold to the EU.

The speech came at a critical moment in the Brexit process.

Michel Barnier, the European Union executive's negotiator, welcomed May's recognition that there would be "trade-offs" but made no comment on her belief that Britain could secure European Union recognition of its own independent regulations in many areas.

In her much-anticipated speech where she was due to outline Britain's economic approach to its relationship with Brussels she said the UK's "decision to leave" the European Union has "caused anxiety" in Ireland.

"It is one small part of a jigsaw that is gradually being put together and we don't know what the whole picture will look like in the end, but businesses and people will adapt to it".

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