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Britain will walk away from the European Union with a deal, says Prime Minister Theresa May

PUBLISHED: 14:05 17 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:30 17 January 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May after speaking at Lancaster House in London where she outlined her plans for Brexit. Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire

Prime Minister Theresa May after speaking at Lancaster House in London where she outlined her plans for Brexit. Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire

Britain is willing walk away from the European Union without out a deal, Theresa May warned today in a speech setting out her plans for extricating Britain from Brussels.

The Prime Minister confirmed that she wants Britain to leave the single market - but claimed she would seek a “bold and ambitious” free trade agreement with the 27 former partners.

During her much-anticipated speech at the historic Lancaster House in London she reiterated her plans for Britain to restore control over immigration.

And she gave her strongest hint yet that the UK could leave the European customs union (CU), stating that she wanted to ensure “frictionless” cross-border trade but had an “open mind” on whether that should be done through associate membership of the CU or a completely new customs agreement.

In a surprise move she also announced that MPs and peers would be allowed to vote on the final deal agreed with the European Union, although she did not make it clear what would happen if the deal is rejected by parliament when asked if it would mean the UK would stay in the European Union.

She said: “I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend.

“Britain would not - indeed we could not - accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise - while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached - I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”

Mrs May said that her plan would create “a truly global Britain ... a great, global trading nation that is respected around the world and strong, confident and united at home”.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said she appeared to be warning that she was ready to turn the UK into a “low-corporate taxation, bargain basement economy off the shores of Europe” if the EU did not give her everything she wanted.

And Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “Theresa May has confirmed Britain is heading for a hard Brexit. She claimed people voted to Leave the single market. They didn’t. She has made the choice to do massive damage to the British economy.”


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