May says she wants to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in Britain, and Britons living in Europe, as soon as possible. Many EU countries want an early deal. Some do not, she says. But the government will push for an early deal. May says she wants Brexit to lead to a fairer Britain. There has been record immigration into Britain, she says. That has put a downward pressure on wages. She says, as home secretary, she learnt you cannot control immigration while allowing free travel from the EU. Brexit must mean control of number of people coming to the UK from Europe.
May says these proposals will be the basis for a new relationship with the EU. But there is one further objective, she says. It is in no one’s interests to have a cliff edge, she says. She is opposed to an indefinite transition. But a “phased process of implementation” would be in the UK and the EU’s mutual self-interest. May says the government will not be pressured into giving a running commentary on Brexit. This would not be in the national interest, she says. May says she is confident that most of the UK’s partners want a positive relationship with the UK after Brexit. She says the UK respects those EU leaders who say the EU’s four freedoms are indivisible.
May says remaining as a member of the single market would mean being bound by EU laws. That would mean in practice not leaving the EU. Both sides during the referendum said leaving the EU meant leaving the single market, she says. May says workers’ rights will be maintained under Brexit. She says she wants to strengthen rights, and ensure laws keep pace with changes in the labour market.
She says she wants a bold, ambitious agreement. An important part of the new relationship will be “the greatest possible access to the single market on a fully reciprocal basis”. May says, out of the single market, the UK will not have to contribute huge sums to the EU. It might continue to make some payments, in return for access to certain programmes. But these won’t be huge payments, she says. May says full customs union membership would stop the UK being able to strike trade deals. But she also wants Britain to have tariff-free access to EU markets. She says she wants a customs agreement with the EU. That could mean partial membership of the customs union. How this happens in practice can be decided, she says.
May says a global Britain will continue to cooperate with its partners on issues like crime, terrorism and foreign affairs. She says all European countries have interests and values in common. Our response cannot be to cooperate less, she says. She says she wants Britain’s future relationship with the EU to include practical arrangements on security, including sharing information.
We want the EU to be a success, she says. And we want the same for Britain, she says. May says the agreement she is proposing is “the economically rational thing” for both sides to aim for. May says cooperation between the EU and the UK is needed not just for trade, but for security. After Brexit Britain wants to be a good friend and neighbour in every way, she says.
May says Britain wants to remain a good friend and neighbour. But some voices are calling for a punitive deal. That would be “an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe, and it would not be the act of a friend”. May says that no deal for Britain would be better than a bad deal. May says a “constructive” approach to the Brexit talks will be in the interests of both sides. Britain is a country with so much to offer the world, she says. She says the government also has 65m people willing it to make a success of Brexit.
The Prime Minister concluded by pointing out why Britain democracy has been a success. She said “One of the reasons that Britain’s democracy has been such a success for so many years is that the strength of our identity as one nation, the respect we show to one another as fellow citizens, and the importance we attach to our institutions means that when a vote has been held we all respect the result. The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the result. And the country comes together.
And that is what we are seeing today. The overwhelming majority of people – however they voted – say we need to get on and make Brexit happen. Business isn’t calling to reverse the result, but planning to make a success of it. And the House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly for us to get on with it too. So the country is coming together. Now we need to put an end to the division and the language associated with it – Leaver and Remainer and all the accompanying insults – and unite to make a success of Brexit and build a truly Global Britain.”