Theresa May wants 'broadest possible agreement' with EU

Theresa May is giving her long-awaited Brexit speech today

Theresa May is giving her long-awaited Brexit speech today

Friday, March 2, 2018

Theresa May is mapping out her Brexit vision in London today, saying she wants the "broadest and deepest possible agreement" with the EU.

After a week of sniping and recrimination surrounding the customs union and the Irish border, May will attempt to defuse tensions by offering her vision for the UK's future relationship with the EU in a long-awaited speech.

It is believed that the Prime Minister will maintain her stance on the customs union, stating that Britain will exit the agreement when it finally severs ties with Brussels and there will be no climb-down.

She is also expected to say that Britain will not be merely a "rule-taker", following EU law with no say over its creation.

However she will add "I want the broadest and deepest possible agreement - covering more sectors and co-operating more fully than any Free Trade Agreement anywhere in the world today."

In an attempt to woo her continental listeners and build bridges after a turbulent week, May will say her vision "is in the EU’s interests as well as ours and because of our unique starting point, where on day one we both have the same laws and rules. 

"So rather than having to bring two different systems closer together, the task will be to manage the relationship once we are two separate legal systems.”

Five tests

In extracts released ahead of the speech, it was revealed that May's future negotiating strategy will be based on five key tests.

The Prime Minister will say that she wants a final Brexit deal which respects the result of the referendum; offers sustainability and "will endure" for the long-term; protects people's jobs and security; ensures Britain remains "a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy"; and will "strengthen our union of nations and our union of people."

However May faces a tough job convincing sceptics after another harrowing week for her and the Government.

Tory grandee Michael Heseltine has said many Tories would prefer a Jeremy Corbyn government to May's Brexit policy, while EU chief Donald Trump has told May she must come up with a "better idea" than the EU's own strategy to prevent the return of a hard border in Northern Ireland.

The EU's draft treaty earlier this week suggested that Britain would remain in the customs union to ensure no hard border, but May has already rejected that draft agreement.