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PM May to set out Brexit approach to calm critics

Downing Street has announced that Prime Minister Theresa May will deliver a speech on Tuesday that will outline her approach to Brexit.

world Updated: Jan 13, 2017 21:28 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
File photo of a cyclist wearing a pro-Brexit badge on her Union flag-themed helmet outside the Supreme Court in central London.
File photo of a cyclist wearing a pro-Brexit badge on her Union flag-themed helmet outside the Supreme Court in central London. (Reuters)

Amid much hand-wringing among MPs and others over Prime Minister Theresa May harping on the line that “Brexit means Brexit” and that she will not provide a running commentary on her approach, Downing Street has announced a major speech on the subject on Tuesday.

Contours of May’s strategy are to be disclosed as financial and others markets keen on continued access to the European market keep a close watch on developments.

May has said she will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the European Union by the end of March, but is under much political pressure to reveal more of her negotiating priorities. The issue of immigration from within the EU is crucial to her government’s Brexit approach.

Her remarks on the issue in recent days have been interpreted as “hard Brexit” or “soft Brexit” (meaning the UK leaving the European market or staying within it), at least once sending the pound into a tailspin before it recovered.

May will seek to remove the impression substantiated by Ivan Rogers, Britain’s senior-most representative in Brussels, that her government’s approach to Brexit reflected “muddled thinking”. The Supreme Court is also due to rule on whether she can trigger Article 50 with or without Parliament’s approval. 

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said: “The prime minister must 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. With just 10 or 11 weeks to go before the triggering of Article 50, time is running out.”