The irony was nobody laughed…
A little over six months ago, the British people voted for change.
They voted to shape a brighter future for our country.
They voted to leave the European Union and embrace the world.
And they did so with their eyes open: accepting that the road ahead will be uncertain at times, but believing that it leads towards a brighter future for their children – and their grandchildren too.
And it is the job of this Government to deliver it. That means more than negotiating our new relationship with the EU. It means taking the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be. Continue reading
The main points from Theresa May’s speech. Brexit means…
- OUT of the single market: “I want to be clear, what I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market”
- OUT of the customs union in its current form: UK will either seek a new customs agreement or become an “associate member” of the customs union. UK must be able to seek new trade deals with the wider world.
- End to contributions to EU budget: Gave herself leeway on making “an appropriate contribution” to parts of the EU budget, though made clear “the days of making vast contributions will end”.
- Transition: There will be a “phased process of implementation” to “avoid a disruptive cliff edge”. No word on time limit.
- Threat to EU: Makes clear she will walk away if Brussels seeks a punitive settlement: “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal”. Repeats Hammond’s threat to make Britain the tax haven of Europe: “We would have the freedom to set competitive tax rates.”
Brexiters will be happy with that. Key battlegrounds now are what the new customs deal looks like and how long this “phased process of implementation” will take. Brexit really does mean Brexit…
Full text here.
Since everyone else has broken the midnight embargo, here are the pre-briefed quotes from Theresa May’s speech. Nothing really new, though we’re finally, slowly, nearly getting there on the single market and customs union.
“A little over six months ago the British people voted for change. They voted to shape a brighter future for our country. They voted to leave the European Union and embrace the world. And they did so with their eyes open: accepting that the road ahead will be uncertain at times, but believing that it leads towards a brighter future for their children – and their grandchildren too.
And it is the job of this Government to deliver it. That means more than negotiating our new relationship with the EU. It means taking the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be.
My answer is clear. I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before. I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country – a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead.
I want us to be a truly Global Britain – the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too. A country that gets out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike. I want Britain to be what we have the potential and ambition to be: a great, global trading nation that is respected around the world and strong, confident and united at home.
Our vote to leave the European Union was no rejection of the values we share. The decision to leave the EU represents no desire to become more distant to you, our friends and neighbours.
We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends. We want to buy your goods, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.
We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU. Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.
The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. My job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do. We have 12 objectives that amount to one big goal: a new, positive and constructive partnership between Britain and the European Union. And as we negotiate that partnership, we will be driven by some simple principles: we will provide as much certainty and clarity as we can at every stage. And we will take this opportunity to make Britain stronger, to make Britain fairer, and to build a more Global Britain too.”
The death knell for “soft Brexit”…
Britain’s global trading partners are eager to get cracking…
Theresa May has the chance to squash the specious narrative that she has no Brexit plan with her big speech on Tuesday. In today’s Times Michael Gove sets the standard she must meet to satisfy Leavers: she should say for the first time that Britain will leave the EU “completely“, in a process taking “months not years”, and that this means leaving the single market and customs union. For those paying attention the government’s plan is discernible. Free movement will end, therefore single market membership will end and we will seek a deal on ‘access’. David Davis has outlined different options on leaving the customs union. If no reasonable settlement is forthcoming we walk away. It is simpler and more straightforward than the fashionable confusion/denial of Remain pundits.
The Gove standard requires the process to take “months not years”. May and Philip Hammond have signalled that there will be some sort of transitional arrangement before we fully leave. May has said: “There will of course be a necessity for adjustment to those new arrangements”. Now, Remainers see this as their golden chance. If the transition takes years, during which Britain remains in the single market, essentially in the EU, perhaps with an ’emergency brake’ on immigration, Remainers can buy time to argue for a second referendum or try to prevent a real Brexit. Gove makes clear Leave MPs will not abide such a delay. Michel Barnier’s timetable requires ratification by March 2019, leaving 14 months before the 2020 election. Leave voters will be unforgiving if we are still in the EU when they go to the polls. The standard is set: May’s Tuesday speech needs to commit to a real Brexit outside the single market and customs union and a process of departure taking months not years…
Guido might have detected David Prescott’s turn of phrase from Corbyn today – the Labour leader now has Prezza Jnr working on his PMQs prep team and hit the PM with the archetypal Labour attack line: “Our NHS is in crisis but the Prime Minister is in denial”. A better Corbyn line was his mockery of Theresa May’s “shared society”: “More people sharing hospital corridors on trolleys”. Inspired by Morten Morland’s cartoon in today’s Times?
The BBC had a similar line on the News at Ten on Monday as well. Neither May nor Corbyn is a strong PMQs peformer, the best lines are borrowed from elsewhere. Becoming a challenge for sketch writers…
H/T @paulwaugh, @joeyfjones, @bbclaurak, half of Twitter.
— SophyRidge On Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) January 8, 2017
Merkel and the EU have been clear: you cannot be a member of the single market without freedom of movement. Theresa May has been clear: we are taking back control of our borders. Since October the PM’s language has confirmed Britain’s membership of the single market will end. Ministers have even said this on the record. As much as the LibDems today scream about ‘hard Brexit’, this is just Brexit. Theresa May’s evasive non-answers to Sophy Ridge were a largely pointless exercise. She is right that a good trade relationship with the EU and single market membership is not a binary issue, as Guido has shown with the US, China, Japan and South Korea among others. May can clear up the simple point of membership once and for all and put Remainers out of their misery. It’s mad that Westminster is still wasting time wondering if single market membership will continue, that was decided on June 23…
— SophyRidge On Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) January 8, 2017
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Theresa May tells the Conservative Friends of Israel lunch:
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