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UK To Leave EU Single Market, Says May

by Jason Gorringe,, London

18 January 2017

Theresa May ruled out the possibility of the UK remaining part of the EU Single Market, in a speech that gave more detail on her Brexit strategy.

In outlining plans for Britain to secure full control of its affairs, including on legal matters and immigration, she said that this "cannot mean membership of the Single Market."

May said that she would instead seek to gain "the greatest possible access" to the European market "through a new, comprehensive, bold, and ambitious free trade agreement."

"That agreement may take in elements of current single market arrangements in certain areas – on the export of cars and lorries for example, or the freedom to provide financial services across national borders – as it makes no sense to start again from scratch when Britain and the remaining member states have adhered to the same rules for so many years," she said.

She said a "punitive" deal would be "an act of calamitous self-harm" for the EU.

May said while she wants the UK to remain part of the customs union, as an "associate member," the UK would seek concessions to enable it to engage with other territories towards its own free trade agreements and not be bound by the Common External Tariff.

She said: "Countries including China, Brazil, and the Gulf states have already expressed their interest in striking trade deals with us. We have started discussions on future trade ties with countries like Australia, New Zealand, and India. And President-Elect Trump has said Britain is not 'at the back of the queue' for a trade deal with the United States, the world's biggest economy, but front of the line."

"I know my emphasis on striking trade agreements with countries outside Europe has led to questions about whether Britain seeks to remain a member of the EU's Customs Union. And it is true that full Customs Union membership prevents us from negotiating our own comprehensive trade deals. Now, 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 there to be as frictionless as possible."

TAGS: VAT special schemes | tax | value added tax (VAT) | India | interest | VAT legislation | financial services | Australia | China | agreements | legislation | Brazil | New Zealand | United States | trade | services | Europe

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