LONDON — Theresa May is set to announce on Tuesday that she is willing to take Britain out of both the European single market and customs union in order to gain full control over EU immigration to the UK, the Telegraph reports.
In a major speech to foreign ambassadors and diplomats, the prime minister will give the clearest signal yet that her government will push for a clean divorce from the EU once exit talks begin, commonly referred to as a “hard Brexit.”
She will also announce that Britain will terminate its relationship with the European Court of Justice (ECJ), meaning it will no longer adhere to EU law. May publicly supported a divorce from ECJ while serving as Home Secretary, long before the June referendum.
A source close to Downing Street told the Telegraph: “She’s gone for the full works. People will know when she said ‘Brexit means Brexit’, she really meant it.”A spokesperson for the prime minister today dismissed reports of the speech as merely “speculation.”
The prime minister is also expected to call on the nation to “put an end to the division” and “unite” in order to make a success of Brexit. However, her vision for a hard Brexit risks alienating both Remain voters and Europhiles in Parliament who hoped that Britain would enjoy much closer links with the EU once the withdrawal is complete.
Staunch Remain MPs have already taken aim at May. “This speech proves that Theresa May is driving the country towards a divisive and destructive exit from the European Union,” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said.
“If the UK had voted 52-48 to remain you can bet that Theresa May would never be pushing towards a hard Remain. There would be no embracing of the Euro, no joining the Schengen Zone. But the Prime Minister seems hell bent on ripping up everything we share with the European Union no matter how damaging that is to the UK.
“This is an incredibly reckless move by Theresa May. It will harm the country for generations to come. The Conservatives once claimed to be the party of business, that record is in tatters.”
Tory MP Anna Soubry, who has been a fierce opponent of Brexit ever since her former leader David Cameron called a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, told Sky News: “The Government has no mandate for this. To go into the negotiation conceding on the single market and the customs union is extremely serious and very bad news.”
When Business Insider interviewed Soubry at the Conservative Party conference in October, the MP for Broxtowe described hard Brexit as “bonkers” and said those who endorsed it were in “denial” about the negative impact it would have on Britain’s economy. She also said: “I am beginning to wonder whether some of the people in charge of Leave actually understand the value of the single market.
“The idea that we will leave the EU and then negotiate some excellent free trade deal with the rest of Europe and not take the free movement of labour is the stuff of the fairies.”
Soubry and her fellow pro-EU MPs are now facing the prospect of their shared nightmare scenario becoming a reality.
May is set to scrap Britain’s membership of the single market in order to put an end to the free movement of EU citizens into the country. This means that Britain will no longer enjoy tariff-free access to the free-trade area and instead will have to negotiate a new free-trade arrangement once Brexit is complete, a process that is likely to take at least five years and possibly up to a decade to complete. The EU-Canada deal took over seven years to finalise.
Brexiteers on the Tory backbenches will be rejoicing at the news that May intends to take Britain out of the customs union. Being part of the customs union allows members to trade freely with each other. However, leaving the union means Britain will be free to negotiate new trade arrangements with states from around the world, although these deals will likely take decades to formally complete.
In her speech to diplomats and ambassadors at Lancaster House, west London, the PM will say:
“One of the reasons that Britain’s democracy has been such a success for so many years is that the strength of our identity as one nation, the respect we show to one another as fellow citizens, and the importance we attach to our institutions means that when a vote has been held we all respect the result.
“The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the result. And the country comes together.
“And that is what we are seeing today. The overwhelming majority of people — however they voted — say we need to get on and make Brexit happen. Business isn’t calling to reverse the result, but planning to make a success of it. And the House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly for us to get on with it too.
“So the country is coming together. Now we need to put an end to the division and the language associated with it — Leaver and Remainer and all the accompanying insults — and unite to make a success of Brexit and build a truly Global Britain.”
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