Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said that the country would leave the EU single market when leaving the European Union, thus opting for the so-called “hard Brexit“. Mrs. May gave a powerful speech yesterday (17 January) in which she outlined a clean break from the world’s biggest free market but promised to seek the greatest possible access to European markets. She also said that Britain would aim to establish its own free trade deals with countries far beyond Europe and set caps on migration from the old continent. Mrs. May thus for the first time openly admitted that the United Kingdom would leave the single market of half a billion people.
“I want to be clear: what I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market,” said Mrs. May and added that “instead, we seek the greatest possible access to it through a new comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement.” Mrs. May said that she would seek full membership to the EU’s customs union in which members apply a common set of tariffs and import quotas. Prime Minister made it clear that she would not seek a “half-in, half-out“ relationship with the EU. This would also mean that the country would no longer abide by the EU law and be subject to jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
Mrs. May, however, said that London would nonetheless maintain a close and friendly trading relationship with the EU. “We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends,” she said. The Brexit negotiations are expected to be one of the most complicated talks in post-WWII European history. Some observers agree that the standard time of two years that is allotted by the EU treaties seems to be ambitious. “Sad process, surrealistic times” – commented EU Council President Donald Tusk on Mrs. May’s speech.