Theresa May, British Prime Minister, said on Tuesday that the country cannot “possibly” remain within the European Union’s (EU's) single market, as that would mean the UK is not leaving the EU at all.
May’s long-anticipated speech, in which she outlined the UK’s approach and objectives when finally leaving the European Union included that:
- The final Brexit deal agreed between the EU and the UK would be voted on by both Houses of Parliament before it comes into effect.
- The government would work to maintain a common travel area between the UK and the Irish Republic.
- The UK would work towards the "freest possible" free trade.
- A new customs agreement with the EU be established.
- EU citizens would still be welcome in the UK.
As far as trade is concerned, May said the UK cannot remain part of a single market, but that the country would rather seek the greatest possible access to the markets through a free trade agreement.
“This may contain elements of current agreements,” May said, adding that this “greatest possible access” would be on a reciprocal basis.
She said the UK would want to have access to the fastest growing export markets in the world and that the country should rediscover its role as one of the great global trading nations.
“We want to get out into the wider world,” she said, and mentioned possible new trade agreements with countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, India, Brazil and the Gulf States.
“And president-elect Donald Trump also said Britain is not at the back of the (trade) queue, but at the front of the line,” May said.
She said that she wanted to remain part of a customs agreement with the remaining 27 EU states, but said she was open-minded over whether this would be through associate membership of the customs union or through some other arrangement.
The pound gained more than 0.85% against the rand, trading at R16.63 an hour after May’s speech.