Theresa May sets out Brexit options including 'no deal'
October 9, 2017 4:08 pm
The UK has set out how it could operate as an “independent trading nation” after Brexit, even if no trade deal is reached with Brussels.
Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs “real and tangible progress” had been made in Brexit talks.
But the country must be prepared for “every eventuality”, as the government published papers on future trade and customs arrangements.
Labour said “no real progress has been made” since last June’s referendum.
Mrs May also confirmed that Britain would remain subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice during a planned two-year transition period after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
Responding to a challenge from Eurosceptic Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, she told MPs the need to ensure the minimum of disruption “may mean that we will start off with the ECJ still governing the rules we’re part of for that period”.
She said it was “highly unlikely” any new EU laws would come into force during the transition, but did not rule out the possibility that any which did so would have effect in Britain.
In her first statement to MPs since her Florence speech last month, which was meant to kick-start stalled Brexit talks, Mrs May repeated her call for a “new, deep and special partnership between a sovereign United Kingdom and a strong and successful European Union”.
“Achieving that partnership will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU,” she said.
“And as we look forward to the next stage, the ball is in their court. But I am optimistic we will receive a positive response.”
She rejected existing models for economic co-operation, such as membership of the European Economic Area or the Canadian model, calling instead for a “creative” solution that would be “unique” to the UK.
But she also stressed – as she has done before – that the government was preparing for “every eventuality,” reinforcing her long-held position that walking away without a deal is a possibility.
She rejected a call from a Tory MP to name a date when Britain would walk away from talks without an agreement, saying “flexibility” was needed.
On Northern Ireland, she said the government had begun “drafting joint principles on preserving the Common Travel Area, and associated rights and we have both stated explicitly we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border”.
The two White Papers give the most detail yet of contingency planning that is under way.