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British PM Prepares for a Smooth Brexit - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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London – British Prime Minister Theresa May has unveiled her 12-point plan for Brexit. In a speech at London’s grand Lancaster House, May said that the British Parliament will have the final decision about the Brexit.

She said that UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean “not leaving the EU at all.”

“I can confirm today the government will put the final deal… to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force,” May stated.

Presenting her 12-point plan, May said that Britain seeks a new and equal partnership between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain, friends and allies in the EU.

The PM outlined the plan saying that Britain will have control of its own laws. She added that leaving the European Union will mean that the country’s own laws will be made in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. This means that UK laws for UK people and decisions will be made in the courts of the country and not in Luxembourg.

“We will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain,” she said.

She also said that the plan for UK is to quit EU single market membership. May said Britain will chase a “bold and ambitious” trade agreement with the EU.

She added: “I want to be clear – what I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market. Instead we seek the greatest possible access to it through a new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement.”

On terrorism and co-operation on fighting crime, May said that a global Britain will continue to co-operate on crime, terrorism and foreign affairs.

“I want our future relationship with the EU to include practical arrangements on matters of law enforcement and the sharing of intelligence with our EU allies,” she reiterated.

She also stated that UK will have a controlled migration rules, explaining that the “sheer volume” of net migration has put pressure on public services.

“Britain is an open and tolerant country,” she said, and “I will always welcome individual migrants as friends. But the message from the public before and during the referendum was clear.”

The PM insisted that immigration must be controlled with priority for the “best and brightest” – this could mean a visa system for skilled workers.

The plan also includes the protection of workers’ rights. “We will ensure workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained,” she said.

“We will build on” EU labour laws to ensure they keep pace, and workers’ voices are represented on company boards, she added.

The PM also stressed that there will be “no new barriers to living and doing business within our own union.”

She added: “We will work to deliver a practical solution that allows the maintenance of the Common Travel Area with the Republic, while protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom’s immigration system.” This implies no hard border with Northern Ireland.

The PM said Brexit Britain must be “one of the best places in the world for science and innovation.” She stressed: “One of our great strengths as a nation is the breadth and depth of our academic and scientific communities, backed up by some of the world’s best universities. We have a proud history of leading and supporting cutting-edge research and innovation.”

The PM also welcomed agreements to continue to collaborate with European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives.

UK has two years to negotiate the exit deal as soon as May activates Article 50 of Lisbon treaty. Otherwise, Britain will have to risk the exit without reaching an agreement.

Many doubt Britain will meet the two-years timeframe.

It will take five years for Britain to fully negotiate its secession from the European Union, rather than the two years more often cited, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said on Tuesday.

“Nobody knows how it exactly will happen. It’s not clear what Article 50 means. It is not clear is it possible to negotiate in parallel the exit and the new contract or not,” Schelling told the press.

“In my opinion you need five years,” he added.

Brexit minister David Davis told parliament on Tuesday that Britain’s approach to leaving the European Union is not about cherry-picking.

“Our approach is not about cherry-picking, but about reaching a deal which fits the aims of both sides,” Davis said.

“We understand the EU wants to preserve its four freedoms, and to chart its own course. That is not a project the UK will now be a part of, and so we will leave the single market and the institutions of the European Union,” he added.

President Donald Trump said he thought the U.K. was “so smart in getting out”. He promised a quick trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. after he takes office on Friday.

European Union president Donald Tusk said Tuesday that British premier Theresa May’s speech on her plans for Brexit was “at least more realistic” about what London wanted.

“Sad process, surrealistic times but at least more realistic announcement on Brexit. EU27 united and ready to negotiate after Art 50,” tweeted Tusk, who heads the European Council that groups EU leaders.

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he was ready to begin talks “as soon as the UK is. Only notification can kick off negotiations. #Brexit,” wrote Barnier on Twitter.

“Agreement on orderly exit is prerequisite for future partnership. My priority is to get the right deal for EU27,” he added.

German Foreign Minister welcomed ‘clarity’ in Theresa May’s speech saying that May’s Brexit speech has “finally” given Europe “a bit more clarity.”

Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Prime Minister’s willingness to engage in a positive partnership with the European Union had been noted.

On the other hand, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday that the British government’s plan for leaving the European Union is “economically catastrophic” and Scotland must have the option of voting for independence if its views on Brexit are rejected.

Sturgeon said Scots, who voted by a clear majority against leaving the EU in last June’s referendum, were now more likely to want independence.

“The UK government cannot be allowed to take us out of the EU and the single market, regardless of the impact on our economy, jobs, living standards and our reputation as an open, tolerant country, without Scotland having the ability to choose between that and a different future,” she said.

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, who was against the Brexit wondered if this was what the British people had been waiting for.

“We’ve waited months for this? For what exactly? Utterly meaningless. Devoid of any substance. What an absolute mess,” he tweeted.

While MP Tim Farron said: “Whether you’re leave or remain, Theresa May just betrayed you on Brexit.”

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party described May’s plan as a reckless gamble.

“We run the risk of losing the crucial environmental and social protections that come with the Single Market. Theresa may is willing to sacrifice our economy at the altar of ending free movement rather than making sure the benefits are shared more fairly – we believe that is utterly misguided,” she added in a statement.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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