May’s Brexit victory
Cabinet finally approves ‘business friendly’ plan
BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May has won cabinet approval for her plans to leave the European Union, with a “a business friendly” proposal aimed at spurring stalled Brexit talks.
After a long meeting at her country residence, May persuaded her cabinet’s most vocal Brexit campaigners to back her plan to press for “a free trade area for goods” with the EU and maintain close trade ties.
The proposal — which also says Britain’s big services sector will not have the current levels of access to EU markets — will not come soon enough for Brussels, which has been pressing May to come up with a detailed vision for future ties.
But the hard-won compromise may yet fall flat with EU negotiators.
By also committing to ending free movement of people, the supremacy of the European court and “vast” payments to the bloc, May could be accused of “cherry picking” the best bits of the EU by Brussels officials, who are determined to send a strong signal to other countries not to follow Britain out of the door.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier welcomed the agreement but added on Twitter: “We will assess proposals to see if they are workable and realistic.”
For now, May, who has been written off by critics since losing her Conservative Party’s parliamentary majority in an ill-judged election last year, will be buoyed by the hard-won agreement.
“Today in detailed discussions the cabinet has agreed our collective position for the future of our negotiations with the EU,” May said. “Now we must all move at pace to negotiate our proposal with the EU to deliver the prosperous and secure future all our people deserve.”
Ministers agreed that an earlier proposal made to the EU “needed to evolve in order to provide a precise, responsible and credible basis for progressing negotiations”.
Instead, they would negotiate for a “free trade area for goods” in a combined customs territory. This would allow Britain to set its own import tariffs and seal new free trade deals.
They also agreed that Parliament would have the power to decide whether to follow EU rules in the future, and the Government would step up preparations for the eventuality of a “no deal” exit.