May to deliver Brexit speech next week

Theresa MayImage copyright
AFP

The prime minister will make a much anticipated speech “setting out more” on the government’s Brexit plans next week, Downing Street has confirmed.

Theresa May, who has said she will trigger Article 50 – the formal process for leaving the European Union – by April, will make the speech on Tuesday.

The government has been under pressure to spell out its negotiating stance but says it cannot show its hand in detail.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn says Mrs May is overseeing a “shambolic Tory Brexit”.

Mrs May has refused to be drawn on the details of her plans for Brexit negotiations with the 27 other EU member states as Britain begins the two-year Article 50 process.

‘Outward-looking’

But she told Parliament’s liaison committee in December: “We’ve also said we will publish more information about our approach before Article 50 is triggered.

“I will be making a speech early in the new year setting out more about our approach and about the opportunity I think we have as a country to use this process to forge a truly global Britain that embraces and trades with countries across the world.”

On Thursday, her official spokeswoman said: “She will be making a speech on Tuesday, setting out more on our approach to Brexit, as part of preparing for the negotiations and in line with our approach for global Britain and continuing to be an outward-looking nation.”

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said Mrs May would be wary of promising more than she could deliver – or being so specific about her aims that other EU countries could set the price for achieving them impossibly high.

Her words would be scoured by different audiences – MPs, 27 other EU states and the UK electorate, he added.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said: “So far the prime minister has refused to provide any clarity about the government’s basic Brexit negotiating stance.

“That has caused great uncertainty and confusion.

“The prime minister must therefore take this opportunity to reassure the country that she has a plan for Brexit and that she will fight for a deal that prioritises jobs, the economy and delivers trading arrangements that are free of tariffs and bureaucratic impediments.”

The speech comes as the Supreme Court is preparing to rule on whether Mrs May has the right to trigger Article 50 without a vote in Parliament – something she has said she will do before the end of March.

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