Category: Asset 8News & Views

May tries to soften the likely ‘hard’ Brexit

January 17, 2017


British Prime Minister Theresa May pictured with Russian president Vladimir Putin at the last G20 summit.


By Evan Short


The Irish government has said a speech made Tuesday by British Prime Minster Theresa May on Britain’s exit from the European Union has provided “greater clarity” on the UK’s intentions.

Mrs. May delivered what was a much anticipated speech on her government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations.

In it she confirmed that the UK would not remain within the European single market when it quits the EU.

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She confirmed that she will seek “the greatest possible access to the single market on a reciprocal basis, through a comprehensive trade agreement.”

However, while the speech confirmed that Britain is pushing for a “hard Brexit,” the prime minister did make a commitment to keep the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland, while ruling out a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

However, such matters will not be entirely within the remit of a British government outside the EU.

After the speech a spokesperson for the Irish government said the prime minister had made clear that she wished to secure the closest possible future economic relationship for Britain with the EU.

“For Ireland, the priorities for the negotiation process that lies ahead are unchanged: our economic and trading arrangements, the Northern Ireland peace process, including border issues, the Common Travel Area, and the future of the European Union,” the government spokesperson said.

And the spokesperson added: “In her speech, Prime Minister May highlighted the specific and historic relationship between Britain and Ireland.

“In this context, she made clear that her priorities include maintaining the Common Travel Area and avoiding a return to a hard border with Northern Ireland, both of which are welcome.

“The alignment between our concerns regarding the economy and trade and the UK objective of the UK to have a close, and friction-free, economic and trading relationship with the EU, including with Ireland is also very important.

“The government notes that the British approach is now firmly that of a country which will have left the EU, but which seeks to negotiate a new, close relationship with it.

“While this will inevitably be seen by many as a ‘hard exit,’ the analysis across government has covered all possible models for the future UK relationship with the EU.”

With regards to Ireland, Mrs. May said during her speech: “We cannot forget that, as we leave, the United Kingdom will share a land border with the EU, and maintaining that Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland will be an important priority for the UK in the talk ahead.”

She added: “Nobody wants a return to the borders of the past. We will make it a priority to deliver a practical solution as soon as we can.”


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