Prime Minster Theresa May delivered a speech outlining the Government’s negotiating principles following June’s Referendum to exit the European Union.
Outlining the opportunities for the United Kingdom, she stressed that in spite of uncertainty, the Government is committed to leveraging the split to build a stronger, fairer and more united country, delivering positive change for ‘ordinary working people’ with ‘genuine economic and social reform’. She identified the need to nurture talent and pioneers to create a more global facing economy, stretching beyond the limits of the European Trading Bloc, operating under legislative and judicial sovereignty, with a firm control on European immigration.
Stressing the desire to support a continuing united European Union in the interests of the United Kingdom as well as the remaining member states of the EU and the EU as whole, it was stated that the country remained a part of Europe and a friend to all member states. The United Kingdom remains committed to many values of the European Union, however this was tempered with a warning that the EU’s overarching governance forced a type of conformity that is perceived to threaten national identities.
She identified 12 key objectives for the forthcoming negotiations, but was clear that further information about the exact nature and development of negotiations would risk compromising the national interest. She indicated that this speech may well be the last statement the Government will make for some time and that constant media coverage would be at odds with the Government’s disciplined view of critical negotiations.
Further light was shed on how the Government plans to cushion the impact on the markets, as she set out that following the end of the two year period after the invocation of Clause 50, the country would enter a transitional period with changes rolling out over a period of years.
Finally, she turned to the worst case scenario, in which the United Kingdom would walk away without an EU-wide deal, should the terms not be beneficial and the EU fails to engage fully with negotiations. Taking a hard line, she spoke directly to member states who could consider punitive measures to deter other countries from breaking away from the Union. She set out the value of EU reliance in Britain, including half a trillion pounds of investment by EU countries in Britain and exports from the EU to Britain worth around £290 billion every year.
This speech was designed to set out an optimistic view of the wide opportunities for Britain’s economy, security and people. By outlining the core principles driving negotiations, she clearly seeks to push back on accusations of a lack of vision and leadership. These set out the hard lines and key negotiation points, while demonstrating that she is not afraid to walk away if she feels the EU is not prepared to engage with a liberated United Kingdom.