17 Jan 2017
Theresa May today gave the clearest indication yet of her plan for the negotiations that will see the UK leave the European Union. She outlined twelve priorities for the UK and made clear that she will not seek to remain in the single market, although she will push for the ‘greatest possible’ access to it without paying ‘vast contributions’ to the EU budget. She also made clear the significance of the UK’s science and innovation base for future success.
She said: ‘This agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU member states. It should give British companies the maximum possible 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.’
The twelve priorities Mrs May named for the negotiations were:
- Certainty wherever possible
- Control of our own laws
- A stronger union with Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
- Maintain the Common Travel Area with Ireland
- Control of immigration
- Rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU
- Protecting and strengthening workers’ rights
- Free trade with European markets
- New trade agreements with other countries
- To be the best place for science and innovation
- Cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism
- A smooth transition
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the negotiations would be difficult but said she was ‘confident that a deal - and a new strategic partnership between the UK and the EU – can be achieved’. Mrs May also made clear that she does ‘not want to undermine the European Union. We want the EU to be a success and we want its remaining member states to prosper. And of course we want the same for Britain.’
The best place for science and innovation
The importance of the UK’s science base was highlighted in the speech, with May saying: ‘A global Britain must also be a country that looks to the future. That means being one of the best places in the world for science and innovation. One of our great strengths as a nation is the breadth and depth of our academic and scientific communities, backed up by some of the world’s best universities. And we have a proud history of leading and supporting cutting-edge research and innovation.
‘So we will also welcome agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives. From space exploration to clean energy to medical technologies, Britain will remain at the forefront of collective endeavours to better understand, and make better, the world in which we live.’
She recognised that recruiting international talent would be crucial to maintain the UK’s position in science and innovation but made clear that controlling immigration would remain a key objective.
The full speech can be read here.