Sturgeon: 'We won't be steamrollered'
May pledges new ‘free trade’ deal with Europe
Giving her first detailed speech on the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU, Mrs May spoke of a “strategic partnership” with the bloc’s remaining member states.
She ruled out separate deals for the devolved nations, prompting an angry response from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who insisted Scotland ‘will not be steamrollered’.
Addressing a London audience, Mrs May said she was not negotiating “partial” or “associate” membership of the EU “or anything that leaves us half in, half out”.
She said: “I want to make it clear, what I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market.”
She said she could not accept the four ‘freedoms’ of the single market – free movement of capital goods, services and people – and indicated that there would be a new deal on the Customs Union, without declaring any preferences.
“Being out of the EU but a member of the single market would mean complying with the EU’s rules and regulations that implement those freedoms without having a vote on what those rules and regulations are.
“It would mean accepting a role for the European Court of Justice that would see it still having direct legal authority in our country. It would, to all intents and purposes, mean not leaving the EU at all.
“That is why both sides in the referendum campaign made it clear that a vote to leave the EU would be a vote to leave the single market.
“So we do not seek membership of the single market. Instead, we seek the greatest possible access to it through a new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement.”
She 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.”
Speaking of the UK as a “global” power she said that it would not be in the interests of the EU for any of its members to take a punitive approach to Britain.
That would result in “calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe and it would not be the act of a friend”, she said.
‘What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market’
On immigration she said the public had made it clear that: “Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe.”
She also announced that both houses of Parliament would get a vote on the final deal agreed between the UK and the European Union.
The government would work to maintain the “common travel area” between the UK and Irish Republic.
Mrs May effectively quashed the SNP’s hopes of a separate Brexit deal, including the option of Scotland remaining in the single market.
She welcomed the Scottish Government’s paper setting out its position on Brexit, but she made clear the substance of the deal with the EU would be a matter for the UK Government and parliament.
“We won’t agree on everything, but I look forward to working with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole of the United Kingdom.
“Part of that will mean working very carefully to ensure that – as powers are repatriated from Brussels back to Britain – the right powers are returned to Westminster, and the right powers are passed to the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The FTSE100, which has risen strongly since the turn of the year, closed 106.5 points down at 7220.38. Wednesday update: the index was up 20 points in early trade.
Sterling saw its biggest gains since the 2008 financial crisis. In late evening trade the pound was up 2.9% against the dollar to a 10-day high of $1.239. It gained more than 1.9% on the euro to €1.16. Wednesday update: the pound dipped to $1.233 and €1.54 in early trade.
Responding to the PM’s speech, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (right) said: “It has not been driven by the interests of the country, it has been driven by the hard right of her own party. I think that is deeply regrettable.
“Scotland can’t be taken down a path we didn’t vote for and is against our interests. I am not prepared to see Scotland’s interests steamrollered.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called for Ms Sturgeon to respond by removing the threat of a second independence referendum. She said: “The Prime Minister has today set out a clear and reasonable plan for Britain as we prepare for the negotiations that will come.
“It is now vital that we all pull together across the UK, to secure the best deal for all of us. There is no reason why both Britain and the European Union cannot emerge from the negotiations in stronger shape.
“The SNP should have the good grace to accept that many of its own demands – including the protection of workers’ rights, and the protection of rights for EU citizens in Britain and cross-border cooperation on tackling crime – have been recognised by the UK Government.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale (right), said: “This was a speech designed more to appease the right wing of the Conservative Party, rather than one which put the best interests of the country first.
“We were promised an outward-looking vision of a reformed nation, but instead we got a plan for a more insular nation. This isn’t what many Leave supporters voted for.
“We are already a divided country, and after Theresa May’s speech those divisions will increase. Once again the Tories have put the Union at risk by furthering the sort of divisions the SNP thrives on.
“The wrong reaction to this speech would be to call for another referendum on independence. It’s illogical to react to the UK leaving the EU single market by calling for Scotland to leave the UK single market.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “Today the Prime Minister changed the landscape. Ruling out membership of the Single Market has reduced options for maintaining a barrier-free trading relationship between the UK and the EU.
“But businesses will welcome the greater clarity and the ambition to create a more prosperous, open and global Britain, with the freest possible trade between the UK and the EU.
“The pressure is now on to deliver these objectives and achieve a smooth and orderly exit.
“Businesses want to make a success of Brexit but will be concerned about falling back on damaging WTO rules.
“They stand ready to support the negotiations to get the best possible deal for the UK by ensuring that the economic case is heard loud and clear.”
David Lamb, head of dealing at Fexco Corporate Payments, said: “While sterling is enjoying a recovery from Monday’s abrupt low against the dollar, it is now more exposed than before. With any lingering hopes of a partial or fudged Brexit gone, the support that such comforting vagueness once provided has also evaporated.
“Sterling watchers should buckle up – we should expect a bumpy road ahead.”
Bryan Buchan, CEO of Scottish Engineering broadly agreed with the PM’s aspirations. He said: “The issues covered by the Prime Minster were very broadly expressed. Two areas we really see as being crucial are that legislation as it applies to business will now be our own preserve and won’t be controlled from Luxembourg.
“In terms of trading with Europe, the fact that we are a vitally important market for both France and Germany should mean that we will not be subject to punitive tariffs.