At last, a clearer path on Brexit
Well, the cat is out of the bag, or so it seems.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has put an end to speculation that London might try to seek a “soft Brexit” by announcing that Britain would leave the European Union (EU) single market when it exits.
Revealing a flexible approach, she has also announced a surprise decision to allow parliament to decide on the final Brexit deal. This effectively means that Britain’s parliament will be able to vote on any final Brexit agreement.
Nevertheless, legal challenges could still scupper May’s Brexit timetable.
Britain’s Supreme Court is due to rule later this month on whether May must seek parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50, which could delay the start of Brexit negotiations.
If the court rules against May, the government may be forced to bring draft legislation before parliament, which could in turn delay the start of negotiations.
The news seems to have been well received with the pound rising as high as $1.2342, up 2.5 per cent on the day and sterling’s biggest daily rise against the dollar since 2008.
Britain has two years to negotiate a break-up deal once May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 50 is expected to be triggered by late March at the latest.
The thorny issue of Britain’s borders will be the keystone of the government’s negotiating policy, with May’s insistence on full control over immigration set to shape the strategy.
One would have expected the premier to outline at least some details on what the new entry criteria would be for Europeans.
On another front, Britain’s post-EU prospects have got a verbal boost from US President-elect Donald Trump, who favours a quick trade deal with the UK. But a fast-track bilateral deal with Washington will be difficult.
Under EU rules Britain cannot sign trade deals with third party states until it is formally outside the bloc.
Genuine fears exist in the minds of some on the impact of Brexit on Britain’s economy.
It should not be forgotten that EU countries accounted for 44 per cent of Britain’s total exports in goods and services in 2015, with the country recording an $82.7 billion trade deficit with the bloc.
If at all anything, May’s speech has brought more clarity on the subject.
She has underlined that Great Britain is striving for a positive and constructive partnership with a strong European Union.
That can be interpreted as a positive signal.