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Post-Brexit, India keen on free trade pact with UK: PM May

world Updated: Sep 08, 2016 01:32 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
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British Prime Minister Theresa May (left) speaks at the dispatch box during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday. (AFP)

India is among several countries keen to forge free trade deals with the United Kingdom after it leaves the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday.

May, who was briefing parliament on Britain’s vote to exit the EU and the G20 Summit in China, consistently refused to be drawn on MPs’ key question whether her government will aim to remain in the European Single Market. She said the effort would be to have a “new” relationship with the EU in Brexit-related talks.

Referring to talks at the G20 Summit, May, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the margins of the summit, said: “As we leave the EU we will forge our own trade deals. The leaders from India, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore said they would welcome talks to remove trade barriers.”

The issue of Britain remaining in the European Single Market is central to Brexit negotiations. Banks and financial institutions are keen on continued access to the market, but EU officials have insisted this will not be possible unless Britain continues to offer freedom of movement to EU citizens.

May said: “I know many people are keen to see rapid progress and to understand what post-Brexit Britain will look like. We are getting on with that vital work. But we must also think through the issues in a sober and considered way.

“And as I have said, this is about getting the kind of deal that is ambitious and bold for Britain. It is not about the Norway model or the Swiss model or any other country’s model – it is about developing our own United Kingdom model.”

Her government, May said, will not take decisions until ready, nor will it reveal its hand prematurely or provide “a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiation”.

May said she was clear the June 23 vote to leave the EU meant control over the movement of EU citizens to Britain. She has refused to guarantee the stay of EU citizens already in Britain unless British citizens in EU countries get the same guarantee.