LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May has said her country will leave the European Union’s single market when it exits the EU.
In a long-awaited speech in which she sought to define the country’s future as a global player that aims to trade freely far beyond Europe, the British PM said the final exit deal would be put to parliament for a vote.
Brexit is an abbreviation for “British exit,” which refers to the June 23, 2016, referendum whereby British citizens voted to exit the European Union. The referendum roiled global markets, including currencies, causing the British pound to fall to its lowest level in decades.
May’s announcement that she will put the final Brexit deal to a vote in both houses of parliament comes ahead of a court decision on whether she has the power to start the process of withdrawing without parliamentary approval.
The premier said she plans to launch the two-year exit negotiation process by the end of March, the BBC reported.
The pound, which has traded at the lowest levels against the US dollar for more than three decades, rose during May’s speech hitting a day high.
May said she would seek an equal partnership with the EU but that she would not adopt models already used by other countries that have free trade agreements with the bloc.
“I want to be clear: What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market,” May told an audience of foreign diplomats and Britain’s own Brexit negotiating team at a mansion house in London.
“Instead we seek the greatest possible access to it though a new comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement. That agreement may take in elements of current single market arrangements in certain areas,” May said.
Britons’ vote to leave the bloc has opened a huge number of questions about immigration, the future rights of the many EU citizens already living in the United Kingdom, whether exporters will keep tariff-free access to the single European market and British-based banks will be able to serve continental clients.
The Brexit talks, expected to be one of the most complicated negotiations in post-World War Two European history, could decide the fate of her premiership, the United Kingdom and the future shape of the European Union that Britain leaves behind.
US President-elect Donald Trump has said that Brexit will turn out to be a great thing and the other countries would follow Britain out of the EU. He promised to strike a swift bilateral trade deal with the United Kingdom.