Brexit: May’s threat to Europe: ‘no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal’

Brexit: May’s threat to Europe: ‘no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal’, by Anuska Asthana. Big speech from Teresa May, the biggest of her young prime minstership, outlining the British approach to Brexit. Decisions have been made.

Theresa May warned European leaders that the UK is prepared to crash out of the EU if she cannot negotiate a reasonable exit deal in a speech where her tough talking rhetoric prompted key figures in Brussels to say that the country was on track for a “hard Brexit”.

The prime minister told EU counterparts that any attempt to inflict a punitive outcome on the UK would be an “act of calamitous self-harm” because it would then slash taxes to attract companies from across the world, in a one-hour address intended to spell out the country’s negotiating strategy. …

Setting out her government’s 12 priorities for crunch negotiations with the EU 27, May made it clear that the UK would:

  • Take back control of borders, arguing that record levels of migration had “put pressure on public services”.
  • No longer be under the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, because “we will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws”.
  • “Explicitly rule out membership of the EU’s single market” because that is incompatible with migration controls.
  • Not stay in the customs union, but try to strike a separate deal as an “associate member” to make trading as “frictionless as possible”.
  • Not be required to “contribute huge sums to the EU budget” but simply pay towards specific programmes.
  • But would seek a “new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement” with the EU, and build trading relationships with countries beyond Europe as part of a “global Britain” strategy.

PM May seems to be getting this correct, implementing the exit sentiment without backsliding — immigration control, the most basic measure to protect culture, is not negotiable and driving other decisions.

Prominent Brexit supporters said the speech represented a clean break from the EU. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, who led the Leave campaign, praised a “fantastic speech” on Facebook. He has been keen for the prime minister to make a clean break with the EU, rather than seeking to remain inside the single market.

The former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “I can hardly believe that the PM is now using the phrases and words that I’ve been mocked for using for years. Real progress.” …

She also called on leave and remain campaigners to put the divisions of the hard-fought referendum behind them. “The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the outcome,” she said, claiming that business, MPs and the public wanted to “get on with it”. …

Czech Europe minister, Tomáš Prouza … tweeted: “UK’s plan seems a bit ambitious. Trade as free as possible, full control on immigration… where is the give for all the take?”