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Theresa May has signaled for the first time that the UK will leave the EU Single Market.
In an interview with Sky News, the prime minister said that she would not try to "keep bits of membership." She added that, post-Brexit, the UK will require controls over immigration, and therefore would not retain free movement of persons, and would rely on jurisprudence from UK courts, rather than from the European Court of Justice.
Asked whether she would prioritize full control over immigration above membership of the single market, May said: "You see this is where it's important for us to look at this issue in the right way because I think often people talk in terms as if somehow we are leaving the EU but we still want to kind of keep bits of membership of the EU. We're leaving, we're coming out, we're not going to be a member of the EU any longer and the question is what is the right relationship for the UK to have with the European Union when we're outside?"
"We will be able to have control of our borders, control of our laws – this is what people were voting for on June 23, but of course we still want the best possible deal for companies to be able to trade, for UK companies to be able to trade in and operate within the European Union and also European companies be able to trade with the UK and operate within the UK," she told Sky News.
May has previously said she would trigger Article 50 by March 31. The EU has said only once the UK triggers that Article will detailed Brexit negotiations begin. Without access to the Single Market, to retain preferential trading terms, the UK would need to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU. There are concerns that this would take more than the two-year transitional period under the mechanism for a member state to leave the EU, after which relationships between the UK and the EU would go back to zero.
Based on what May has indicated, the UK will no longer be a part of the Single Market, which allows, among other things, for the free movement of goods without tax at the border.
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