On January 17th, British Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a speech in Lancaster House. She charted Britain’s course toward a clean break from the European Union, in which she stated that her “job is to get the right deal for Britain.”
May has said the UK cannot remain within the European single market, for doing so would mean “not leaving the EU at all.” She announced her priorities for Brexit negotiations, which included preserving common travel between the UK and Irish Republic, and control of migration between the UK and the EU.
However, opting out of the single market has reduced options for maintaining barrier-free trade between the U.K. and the E.U. Kallum Pickering, a senior economist in London’s Berenberg Bank, stated that while the E.U. is not to be expected to compromise its principles, “the U.K. is set to face significant economic consequences from Brexit.”
The extent to which May is willing to compromise in order to maintain some access to the single market and the customs union for goods is unclear. The customs union limits individual free-trade deals between member countries and non-European countries. Therefore, the Prime Minister wanted a deal that would allow Britain to trade freely with the world, but still maintain as much tariff-free trade as possible with European Union countries.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn argued that May still needed to “be clearer” about her long-term objectives. He believes that Britain needs a deal that ensures access to the market, for many British jobs are dependent on that market. This, he states, is “what we'll be pushing for.”