LONDON -- British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that Britain plans to make a clean break from the European Union and not opt for “anything that leaves us half-in, half-out,” but she said Britain’s parliament would have the final say in approving the deal negotiated by her government with Europe.
In a major speech, May said Britain won’t “hold on to bits of membership,” nor seek associate or partial membership in the bloc during the coming two-year negotiation period with European leaders. Those negotiations will begin once May’s government triggers Article 50 of the EU charter, which she has vowed to do by the end of March.
May said “Brexit” will see Britain leave the EU’s single market -- but “seek greatest possible access to it,” as it exits the trade bloc.
She said her plans for Brexit cannot allow the U.K. to remain in the single market of the bloc because that would mean “not leaving the EU at all.”
The rules of the EU state that member nations must accept the principles of free movement of goods and people in order to remain within the bloc. That, May stated, would be impossible if Britain is to fulfil the vows made during the Brexit campaign to take complete control over its borders.
May said she wanted Britain to be part of a customs union agreement with the other EU states, and remove as many trade barriers as possible. She did not provide details, but said she had an “open mind” on how to do it.
She said Britain would forge a “new and equal partnership” with Europe after the result of a June national referendum saw Briton’s chose to leave the EU after more than 30 years as a founding member.
Setting out her vision for Britain, May said she wanted her country to emerge “stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than before.”
The value of the British pound rallied on May’s focus on keeping Britain open to global trade. Her speech indicated her government’s desire to make the country open to new trade opportunities in the global economy.
The pound, which had been recovering Tuesday from steep losses earlier in the week, rallied to trade 1.9 percent higher at $1.2271. On Monday, it was as low as $1.20, the weakest level since October and near a 31-year low.