LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May set out the principles that will guide her approach to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union in a speech in London on Tuesday.
Below are highlights from her speech:
This agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU’s member states. It should give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets, and let European businesses do the same in Britain.
But I want to be clear: What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market.
We seek a new and equal partnership between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU. Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.
We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave. No. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union and my job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do.
An important part of the new partnership ... will be the pursuit of the greatest possible access to the single market on a fully reciprocal basis through a comprehensive free trade agreement.
Because we will no longer be members of the single market, we will no longer be required to contribute huge sums to the EU budget. There may be some specific EU programmes we might want to participate in. The days of Britain making vast contributions to the European Union will end.
PUNITIVE DEAL FOR UK WOULD BE SELF-HARM FOR EUROPE
I must be clear: Britain wants to remain a good friend and neighbour to Europe. Some voices are calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe and it would not be the act of a friend. Britain would not, indeed we could not accept such an approach.
While I am sure a positive agreement can be reached I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.
WANT TARIFF-FREE TRADE WITH EUROPE
I want Britain to be able to negotiate its own trade agreements but I also want tariff-free trade with Europe and cross-border trade to be as frictionless as possible. That means I do not want Britain to be part of the common commercial policy.
I do want us to have a customs agreement with the EU, whether that means we must reach a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the customs union in some way or remain a signatory to some elements of it, I hold no preconceived position.
I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before. I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country, a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead.
I want us to be a truly global Britain, the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too. A country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.
As we continue to bring the deficit down, we will take a balanced approach by investing in our economic infrastructure - because it can transform the growth potential of our economy, and improve the quality of people’s lives across the whole country.
You will still be welcome in this country as we hope our citizens will be in yours.
Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe and that is what we will deliver.
We will ensure we can control immigration to Britain from Europe.
GUARANTEEING RIGHTS OF EU CITIZENS IN UK, UK CITIZENS IN EU
We want to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain and the rights of the British nationals in other member states as early as we can.
The result of the referendum was not a decision to turn inward and retreat from the world, because Britain’s history and culture is profoundly internationalist. We are a European country and proud of our shared European heritage. But we are always a country that has looked beyond Europe to the wider world.
Our guiding principle must be to ensure that as we leave the European Union no new barriers to living or doing business within our own union are created.
The United Kingdom will share a land border with the EU and maintaining that common travel area with the republic of ireland will an important priority for the UK in the talks ahead.”
Our decision is not always understood by our friends and allies in Europe, and many fear the beginning of a great unravelling of the EU. But let me be clear. I do not want that to happen. It would not be in the best interest of Britain, it remains overwhelmingly and compellingly in Britain’s best national interest for the EU to succeed.
At a time when together we face a serious threat from our enemies, Britain’s unique intelligence capabilities will continue to help to keep people in Europe safe from terrorism.
And at a time when there is growing concern about European security, Britain’s servicemen and women, based in European countries including Estonia, Poland and Romania, will continue to do their duty.
Reporting by Sarah Young, Elisabeth O'Leary and Paul Sandle, editing by Estelle Shirbon