Theresa May’s 12 objectives for Brexit negotiations
Certainty, control, free trade, new deals: Both sides will have much to parley on
The prime minister said the UK will seek a “new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious” free trade deal with the EU. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
These are the 12 objectives for Britain’s Brexit negotiations, as set out in prime minister Theresa May’s speech at Lancaster House:
1. Certainty wherever possible
The fluctuation in the value of the pound whenever a minister opens their mouth about Brexit illustrates the impact uncertainty has on the economy. The prime minister said she wanted to give “business, the public sector and everybody” as much certainty as possible – by, for example, converting all EU laws into British ones. But she also introduced the potential for fresh uncertainty by promising that both houses of parliament will be given a vote on the final deal.
2. Control of our own laws
If Brexit was about “taking back control”, then May stressed that must mean leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Laws made in the UK will be “interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg but in courts across this country”.
3. Strengthening the United Kingdom
May insisted that the UK government was making sure the devolved administrations were “fully engaged” in the Brexit process, hinting that some of the powers returned from Brussels could be passed to Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont.
4. Maintaining the common travel area with Ireland
This will be an “important priority” for the UK, May said, adding that “nobody wants to return to the borders of the past”. But she acknowledged that a “practical solution” would have to be found that would protect the “integrity” of the UK’s immigration system because, as an EU member, the Republic will retain freedom of movement with the other nations in the bloc.
5. Control of immigration
By ending freedom of movement, there will be “control of the number of people coming to Britain from the EU”. But the country will nonetheless attract the “brightest and best” to work and study in the UK, May said.
6. Rights for EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU
The prime minister has told fellow leaders she wants an early agreement on this. But she acknowledged that “one or two” of her counterparts do not.
7. Enhancing rights for workers
Workers’ rights will be “fully protected and maintained” after Brexit, as the EU’s laws are translated into domestic legislation, the prime minister insisted.
8. Free trade with European markets
The UK will quit the single market and instead seek a “new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious” free trade deal. This will aim to ensure the “greatest possible access” to the single market on a reciprocal basis.
9. New trade agreements with other countries
May acknowledged that “full” customs union membership prevents the UK from striking comprehensive trade deals with other countries, such as the potential UK-US deal suggested by Donald Trump. Instead, she wants to retain tariff-free trade with the EU, potentially as an “associate member” of the customs union or under a new agreement.
10. A leading role in science and innovation
The UK will seek to continue co-operation with European partners on science, research and technology initiatives. May said the UK would “remain at the forefront of collective endeavours” in areas “from space exploration to clean energy to medical technologies”.
11. Co-operation on crime, terrorism and foreign affairs
Under May’s plan, the relationship will include “practical arrangements” on law enforcement and security, including the sharing of intelligence with EU allies. The UK’s intelligence expertise is viewed as a valuable card in May’s hand during negotiations.
12. A phased approach, delivering a smooth, orderly Brexit
Although the divorce deal following the triggering of article 50 will need to be completed within two years, the future trading relationship may require longer to establish. May suggested there could be a “phased process of implementation” that would give businesses time to plan and prepare, avoiding a “disruptive cliff-edge” change in the relationship.