Theresa May Confirms U.K. Will Pursue Hard Brexit

She said the final deal will be subject to a Parliament vote.

LONDON ― The United Kingdom will leave Europe’s single market, put new restrictions on immigration, and remove Britain from the jurisdiction of the European Union laws, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Tuesday in a long-anticipated speech detailing her government’s approach to the June vote to leave the bloc.

“We seek a new and equal partnership,” May said of Britain’s departure from the EU. “Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.”

Speaking in front of politicians and diplomats at Lancaster House, May set out 12 negotiating objectives for the negotiations over Brexit. Assuring Brits that she plans to seek “the best deal for Britain,” she said she plans pursue a customs agreement with other European countries, possibly with an associate membership of the Customs Union. She said Brexit was “not a decision to turn inward and retreat from the world.”

May said the final deal would be subject to a vote from both houses of parliament. They’re expected to approve the plan.

Addressing other EU member states, May stressed that she does not want to see the bloc dissolve. This assurance is a sharp rebuke to comments made by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who called Brexit “a great thing” and said, “I believe other [countries] will leave” the EU.

 “We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends,” May said. “We want to buy your goods, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.” 

British voters decided to leave the EU in a narrowly decided referendum on June 23. The narrow win of the “Leave campaign” rocked British politics and stunned European countries. 

In the months since taking over from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who stepped down in the wake of the Brexit vote, May has faced criticism for providing few details about her vision for the country ― and how she’d approach the monumental negotiations leading up to the departure from the EU. Britain is expected to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before April. The move would signal the start of two years of complex negotiations to disentangle relations between the U.K. and the EU. 

The pound rose sharply during May’s speech, and rebounded against the dollar:

 Leading Brexit advocate Nigel Farage celebrated the speech.


European leaders on Tuesday welcomed May’s comments and stressed the sense of solidarity among EU members heading into the negotiations. 

“Sad process, surrealistic times but at least more realistic announcement on #Brexit,” tweeted Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. 

“We welcome that @theresa_may finally outlined her  ideas and that she created more clarity about UK plans,” German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said

French President Francois Hollande told May he hoped negotiations could start shortly after the British government triggers Article 50, Reuters reports. 

This article has been updated with more responses from European leaders. 



Brexit Wins