PM: “We are leaving the European Union, we are not leaving Europe!”

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Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that the UK will leave the single market following Brexit in a speech on January 17.

During the speech, the Prime Minister announced her 12 point plan for Brexit including confirmation that the UK will leave the single market and instead seek a free trade agreement, not just with the EU but with the rest of the world.

She has said that her aim is to create the ‘best possible’ agreement which will still allow the UK access to the single market, yet ending the ‘vast contributions’ the country pays to the EU.

In her speech to the remaining 27 states, May said: “We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends.

“We want to buy your goods, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.”

She confirmed that the country will not be part of the full customs union, but there will be a custom agreement with EU to help make cross boarder trade easier.

She said: “Full membership of the customs union prevents us from negotiating our own comprehensive trade deals.”

For EU workers, May said she is seeking an early deal to confirm their rights in the UK and also the rights of British citizens currently living abroad.

However, she has also made it clear that there will be tighter controls over the borders to control future numbers.

“We will always want immigration, especially high skilled immigration… Brexit must mean control of the people who come to Britain,” she added.

Despite this reassurance, no clear strategy for immigration has been provided yet. May has already rejected the idea of a points based system and no alternative has been provided at this point.

In addition, she wants to guarantee no new barriers are created for business and build an open trading nation.

The PM said that any new deal made will not be a ‘half-in, half-out’ agreement with the EU, but the UK will continue to be partners and friends to EU nations. The government will not seek to hold on to bits of membership when the UK leaves the union.

Government, however, will have a final vote and say on the Brexit deal to make sure that it is ‘right for everyone’, which has been a much heated debate.

The full 12 points that May spoke about were:

  1. Provide certainty about the process of leaving the EU
  2. Control of our own laws
  3. Strengthen the union between the four nations of the UK
  4. Maintain the common travel area with Ireland
  5. Control of immigration coming from the EU
  6. Rights for EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU
  7. Protect workers’ rights
  8. Free trade with EU markets through a free trade agreement
  9. New trade agreements with other countries
  10. Continue collaboration with EU partners on major science, research and technology initiatives
  11. Co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism
  12. A smooth and orderly Brexit

In her closing speech, May said: “Business isn’t calling to reverse the result, but planning to make a success of it. The House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly for us to get on with it. And the overwhelming majority of people – however they voted – want us to get on with it too.

“So that is what we will do.

“Not merely forming a new partnership with Europe, but building a stronger, fairer, more global Britain too.”