Prime Minister Theresa May dismissed the idea of a “hard Brexit” and highlighted her plans for a “new relationship” with the European Union (EU) as Britain prepares to leave the 28-member bloc.
At the end of a major speech at the UK’s Charity Commission on Monday where she laid out her government’s measures to tackle the stigma around mental health, she was asked if the stock markets were reacting to a flawed interpretation of Brexit.
The value of the pound has fallen to a two-month low against major currencies after media reports suggested May signalled the UK would pursue a “hard Brexit” from the EU.
Sterling fell about 1% across the board, the BBC reported.
May said, “Well, I’m tempted to say the people who are getting it wrong are those who print things saying I’m talking about a ‘hard’ Brexit, ‘it’s absolutely inevitable it’s a hard Brexit’. I don’t accept the terms ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit.
“What we are doing is going to get an ambitious, good, the best possible deal for the United Kingdom in terms of trading with, and operating within, the single European market.
“But it will be a new relationship because we won’t be members of the EU any longer. We will be outside the European Union, and therefore we will be negotiating a new relationship, across not just trading but other areas, with the European Union,” she added.
May’s speech came as she had outlined her plans to use the state to create a “shared society” yesterday.
She announced plans to speed up the provision of digital mental health services, to improve services for schools and to stop GPs charging patients up to 300 pounds for a form certifying their mental illness.
Under new measures, every secondary school in Britain will be offered mental health first aid training and employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off.
“We have a once in a generation chance to step back and ask ourselves, what sort of country do we want to be,” she said.
May said that mental health had been “dangerously disregarded” as secondary to physical health and changing that will go “right to the heart of our humanity”.
She confirmed a new green paper would be published later in 2017 on children and young people’s mental health to “transform services in education and within families”.
The British PM also announced that mental health campaigner Dennis Stevenson will lead a review alongside Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind to look at how people with mental health problems can be better supported in the workplace.