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May's latest speech fans flames of fear of a no-deal Brexit

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·Head of Yahoo Finance UK
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Prime Minister Theresa May spoke at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London. Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Theresa May spoke at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London. Photo: Reuters

Britain has less than five months to go until it officially severs ties with the European Union. However, there are growing fears of Britain leaving the bloc with no-deal — either through lack of movement on negotiations or that the UK parliament won’t accept the deal Theresa May presents to MPs.

There are even fears that a snap second Brexit referendum is becoming more likely.

Last night (12 November), May spoke at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London with the contents of her speech doing little to qualm those fears. While she said there won’t be “an agreement at any cost,” she emphasised how “any deal must ensure we take back control of our laws, borders and money. It must secure the ability to strike new trade deals around the world. And it must also be a deal that protects jobs, our security and our precious Union.”

“The Brexit talks are not about me or my personal fortunes. They are about the national interest – and that means making what I believe to be the right choices, not the easy ones. Overwhelmingly, the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit, and I am determined to deliver for them. I want them to know that I will not compromise on what people voted for in the referendum,” she added.

The core issue is that May and her negotiating team have floated several ideas for a deal — essentially picking and choosing parts of EU membership they like (lucrative trading conditions) but wanting to get rid of elements they don’t like (freedom of movement of people).

EU officials have consistently said that striking a deal is not like picking from an “a la carte menu” for May and her team and the UK either needs to accept all the unified conditions that come with EU, such as allowing the freedom of movement of people if they want favourable trading conditions at a fee (like Norway).

However, with speeches like these, May has been alluding and sometimes explicitly saying that she is willing to walk away without a deal if talks do not go her way. Meanwhile, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said this week that parliament will not allow the UK to leave the EU without a deal and if 400 or so MPs were opposed to a no-deal Brexit, it would be able to force May and her team to come to an agreement with the bloc.

Meanwhile, there are growing calls for a second Brexit referendum. Former prime minister Gordon Brown said Britain should leave the door open to rejoining the EU.

“I believe a referendum will happen as people come to the conclusion that since 2016 the situation has changed and at some point they will want to have the final say,” said Brown in a speech this week.

Last month, more than 500,000 people marched in London to protest against Brexit.


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