LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May is finally going to deliver some clarity over how Britain will approach Brexit talks once Article 50 is triggered, in a speech on January 17.
May’s spokesperson said in a statement: “She will be making a speech on Tuesday, setting out more on our approach to Brexit, as part of preparing for the negotiations and in line with our approach for global Britain and continuing to be an outward-looking nation.”
Britain voted for a Brexit by a slim majority on June 23 and, since then, there has been much speculation on when May will trigger Article 50 and therefore start the two-year negotiation period. March 2017 is the current target date but a Supreme Court case will rule in January 2017 whether she will have to get permission from parliament to do this. This could slow things down.
May’s government has been experiencing a wave of issues internally and externally about how talks are being prepared for. On top of that, while May said she will not give a “running commentary” on how negotiations are going, she has made it clear in various speeches that her government is prioritising immigration restrictions. This would imply a “hard Brexit” — leaving the EU without access to the Single Market.
In December, however, May told Parliament’s liaison committee “we will publish more information about our approach before Article 50 is triggered.
“I will be making a speech early in the new year setting out more about our approach and about the opportunity I think we have as a country to use this process to forge a truly global Britain that embraces and trades with countries across the world.”
On Sunday, there was a lot of fanfare over May’s speech and interview on Sky News, which was meant to be the key moment that the nation learns more about the government’s Brexit strategy.
However, she failed to deliver any concrete plans and came under heavy criticism from the opposition.
Labour Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said in a statement: “So far the prime minister has refused to provide any clarity about the government’s basic Brexit negotiating stance. That has caused great uncertainty and confusion.”
“The prime minister must therefore take this opportunity to reassure the country that she has a plan for Brexit and that she will fight for a deal that prioritises jobs, the economy and delivers trading arrangements that are free of tariffs and bureaucratic impediments.”