Theresa May has set out a new role for a “global Britain” outside Europe’s single market in a landmark speech outlining plans for the UK’s epochal EU exit.
The prime minister’s long-anticipated plan aimed to take the edges off a “hard Brexit” feared by business, but she vowed to fight back if she failed to get a good deal from the EU’s remaining 27 members.
Mrs May said she would seek a “bold and ambitious free-trade agreement” with the EU and hoped to maintain partial membership of the its customs union, continued tariff-free trade and an “implementation phase” to avoid a Brexit cliff-edge.
“We are leaving the European Union but we are not leaving Europe,” she said.
But her speech caused unease in Europe as Mrs May laced it with a threat to walk away if she could not secure a trade deal, instead turning Britain into an economy based on low taxes and loose regulation.