Theresa May gives UK the “hard facts” of Brexit

Global Business

BRITAIN-EU-POLITICS-BREXIT-THERESA-MAYBritish Prime Minister Theresa May gives a speech on Brexit at Mansion House in London on March 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / PETER NICHOLLS)

A successful Brexit is all in the details, but European Union leaders said they need more. British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech on what her government is looking for, to which some responded that what how she will achieve those goals is still anything but clear.

CGTN’s Richard Bestic reports.

As an Arctic blast swept Britain, the U.K. Prime Minister sent her warmest words yet to Brexit negotiators in Brussels. Gone is the woman who claimed “no deal is better than a bad deal,” to be replaced by the sounds of conciliation.

“What I am seeking is a relationship that goes beyond the transactional, to one where we support each other’s interests,” May said. “I want the broadest and deepest possible partnership covering more sectors and cooperating more fully than any free trade agreement anywhere in the world today.”

In a tone removed from earlier caustic talks, the prime minister said she recognized the EU’s principles, and called for compromise with Brussels’ Brexit negotiators. May admitted neither side will get exactly what it wants, but maintained she is confident an agreement can be reached.

“We both want good access to each other’s markets. We want competition between us to be fair and open, and we want reliable transparent means of verifying we are meeting our commitments and resolving our disputes,” according to May.

As Britain does 60 percent of its trade with the European Union, May promised to be “straight with people,” conceding the country will have less access to a market of 500 million people.

“The reality is that we all need to face up to some hard facts. We’re leaving the single market. Life is going to be different.”

She promised no cherry picking of the EU’s best bits, but maintained her red lines around the free movement of labor and Europe’s customs union.

The speech was as much about tone as it was about laying out Britain’s negotiating position. On the details of the issues, such as the Irish border, there’s a long way to go.