HAVE YOUR SAY: Prime Minister Theresa May outlines Brexit plan

Reporter:

Suzanne Jordan

PRIME minister Theresa May has outlined her 12-point Brexit plan.

During a key speech in London, Mrs May addressed "our friends across Europe." 

She said: "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. It was no attempt to do harm to the EU itself or to any of its remaining member states.

"We do not want to turn the clock back to the days when Europe was less peaceful, less secure and less able to trade freely. It was a vote to restore, as we see it, our parliamentary democracy, national self-determination, and to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit."

She went on to say that "We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends" and "You will still be welcome in this country as we hope our citizens will be welcome in yours."

"We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe," Mrs May added. 

The 12 objectives for Britain's Brexit negotiations, as set out in Theresa May's speech, are as follows: 

  • Certainty wherever possible

The Prime Minister said she wanted to give "business, the public sector and everybody" as much certainty as possible - for example by converting all EU laws into British ones. But she also introduced the potential for fresh uncertainty by promising that both Houses of Parliament will be given a vote on the final deal.

  • Control of our own laws

Mrs May stressed that must mean leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Laws made in the UK will be "interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg but in courts across this country".

  • Strengthening the United Kingdom

Mrs May insisted that the UK Government was making sure the devolved administrations were "fully engaged" in the Brexit process, hinting that some of the powers returned from Brussels could be passed to Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont.

  • Maintaining the common travel area with Ireland

This will be an "important priority" for the UK, Mrs May said, adding that "nobody wants to return to the borders of the past". But she acknowledged that a "practical solution" would have to be found that would protect the "integrity" of the UK's immigration system because, as an EU member, the Republic of Ireland will retain freedom of movement with the other nations in the bloc.

  • Control of immigration

By ending freedom of movement there will be "control of the number of people coming to Britain from the EU". But the country will attract the "brightest and best" to work and study in the UK, Mrs May said.

  • Rights for EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU

The Prime Minister has told fellow leaders she wants an early agreement on this. But she acknowledged that "one or two" of her counterparts do not.

  • Enhancing rights for workers

Workers' rights will be "fully protected and maintained" after Brexit, as the EU's laws are translated into domestic legislation, the Prime Minister insisted.

  • Free trade with European markets

The UK will quit the single market and seek a "new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious" free trade deal instead. This would aim to ensure the "greatest possible access" to the single market on a reciprocal basis.

  • New trade agreements with other countries

Mrs May acknowledged that "full" customs union membership prevents the UK from striking comprehensive trade deals with other countries - such as the potential UK-US deal suggested by Donald Trump. Instead, Mrs May wants to retain tariff-free trade with the EU, potentially as an "associate member" of the customs union or under a new agreement.

  • A leading role in science and innovation

The UK will seek to continue co-operation with European partners on science, research and technology initiatives. Mrs May said the UK would "remain at the forefront of collective endeavours" in areas "from space exploration to clean energy to medical technologies".

  • Co-operation on crime, terrorism and foreign affairs

Under Mrs May's plan the relationship will include "practical arrangements" on law enforcement and security, including the sharing of intelligence with EU allies. The UK's intelligence expertise is viewed as a valuable card in Mrs May's hand during negotiations.

  • A phased approach, delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit

Although the divorce deal following the triggering of Article 50 will need to be completed within two years, the future trading relationship may require longer to establish. Mrs May suggested there could be a "phased process of implementation" which would give businesses time to plan and prepare, avoiding a "disruptive cliff-edge" change in the relationship.

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