Watch: PM Theresa May’s Speech Invoke BREXIT, Pound Soars 2,5%

Watch: PM Theresa May’s Speech Invoke BREXIT, Pound Soars 2,5%, Gatestone EUVincent van den Born, January 17, 2017

UK prime minister Theresa May has just given her speech on Britain’s departure from the European Union. The essence seemed to be that from now on, British people will decide on British laws, interpreted by British judges. They will regain control over their borders, leave the EU single market and establish separate free trade deals, alleviate as many barriers to trade as possible, and Britain will stop contributing large annual sums of money to the EU apparatus. May also warned against countries seeking a punitive Brexit, emphasising that if Britain suffers, Europe will suffer economically as well. May said:

“We will leave the EU, but we will not leave Europe.”

According to the EU, there will be no negotiating the four EU “fundamental freedoms.” Nor is there any inclination in EU countries to be very forthcoming in helping with Brexit: “It’s not up to Europe to figure out Brexit for Britain,” according to Christophe Caresche, French Socialist MP, “They need to present a clear framework, and we will respond within the negotiation process.

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With president-elect Trump going on record saying how good an idea he thinks Brexit is, and offering a bilateral trade deal, Brussels can’t rest easily. In an interview with German Welt, UK finance minister Philip Hammond didn’t mince words either. When told that in Germany, many still hope that the UK chooses to remain in the EU, Hammond was unequivocal: “That will not happen. Those of us who, like me, have campaigned to stay in the EU and tried to reform it from within have moved on. To put it frankly: since the referendum on the European side, we have seen a movement away from British positions. This suggests that the underlying driving force on the European side is still towards more political integration, towards a defence component for the European Union – things which are an abomination to the UK.

The UK front, thus, is solid. The same is not the case in Brussels. While Germany sounds a harsh note, in the person of Norbert Röttgen, MP of Angela Merkel’s CDU, by engaging aggressively with Hammond’s firm assertions that he will do everything to make Brexit work: “The U.K.’s two main economic weaknesses are its considerable trade deficit and a big budget deficit, (…) As such, Hammond’s threats with duties and tax cuts would primarily damage the U.K. and should be regarded as an expression of British cluelessness.” But ‘British cluelessness‘ is not what Caresche is scared of: “What we definitely don’t want is a negotiation that will create an attractive standard for leaving the EU that other countries would want to imitate. It’s not just a British issue — it’s also about not creating incentives for other countries to leave.”

A sentiment that is shared in ‘New Europe‘, as Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjartó makes clear: “If the U.K. will be able to sign economic and trade agreements with many serious actors of the world economy, and [at the same time] if the EU is not able to build this kind of cooperation with the U.K., then is going to be a very unfavorable position for us.”

Explore posts in the same categories: BREXIT, BREXIT and Trump, Britain, Europe and BREXIT, Theresa May, Trade

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