Theresa May commits to Brexit vote in UK parliament

Theresa May commits to Brexit vote in UK parliament
Posted at 5:52 AM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 07:52:49-05

LONDON (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May has committed to placing a final Brexit deal to a vote in both houses of the UK parliament.

In a much-anticipated speech in London, May said that once Britain had negotiated a final deal to leave the European Union, it would be placed before the House of Commons and the House of Lords for approval.

She confirmed that Britain would leave the single market. But she said that, in the forthcoming negotiations with the EU, Britain would see seek a customs arrangement to replace the provisions of the EU customs union. Such a deal could amount to "associate membership" of the customs union, she said.

May said Britain would not adopt a "half-in, half-out" approach to the European Union, indicating that a so-called hard Brexit is on the cards.

"We seek a new and equal partnership -- between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU," May said.

"Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.

"The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. My job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do."

May warned other EU member states not to seek a "punitive" deal for Britain in order to send a message to Euroskeptics in other countries. Britain would not accept such as deal and would go it alone. "No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain," she said.

Talks on a deal can only begin once the British government invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets the rules of EU membership. May has said she wants to trigger the mechanism by the end of March. The UK Supreme Court is due to rule in the next few weeks on whether there must be a vote in the UK parliament before that can happen.

May has previously refused to give a "running commentary" on her negotiation plans when asked by Parliament. But in her speech she acknowledged it was important for businesses and others to have as much clarity as it was possible to give.

Criticism of May

May has faced recent criticism over her Brexit strategy and was dealt a blow earlier this month when Ivan Rogers, Britain's ambassador to the EU, resigned from his role in Brussels.

"We do not yet know what the government will set as negotiating objectives for the U.K.'s relationship with the EU after exit," Rogers wrote in a goodbye note to staffers, while also accusing Whitehall of "muddled thinking."

May rejected Rogers' assertion last week.

"Our thinking on this isn't muddled at all," she told Sky News in her first interview of 2017.

"There hadn't been any plans made for Brexit so it was important for us to take some time to actually look at the issues, look at the complexity of the issues."

Rogers' resignation came just weeks after Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, warned Britain it was facing a race against time to strike an exit deal.

Barnier said the process would need to be completed by October 2018, ensuring enough time for ratification by the 27 remaining member states within the two-year time scale according to EU rules.

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