U.K.’s May to Detail Brexit Vision in Speech on Tuesday

Updated on
  • Premier to give update on her plans before invoking Article 50
  • May will outline approach to Brexit, hopes for world trade

LSE's Klass: Brexit Delay Weakens U.K.'s Position

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will set out her vision for Brexit and her hopes for creating a “truly global Britain” in a speech on Tuesday, her spokeswoman said.

The address, planned since December, will attempt to answer calls from businesses and politicians for more detail on her goals as she prepares to trigger the formal process for leaving the European Union by the end of March.

“She will be making a speech on Tuesday setting out more on our negotiating approach to Brexit as part of preparing for the negotiations and continuing to be an outward-looking nation,” May’s spokeswoman, Helen Bower, told reporters in London on Thursday. She gave no further details.

The event is likely to be closely watched by the markets, with currency traders increasingly seeing her pronouncements on Brexit as a trigger to sell the pound. Sterling tumbled after her speech at the Conservative Party conference in October, and again this Monday after she suggested a day earlier that she’s planning to pull the country out of the continent’s single market.

Volatility jumps as U.K.’s May announces Brexit speech

News of her planned speech again saw sterling come under pressure and sent a one-week measure of anticipated price swings for the currency to the highest in two months. The pound was at $1.2212 as of 5 p.m. London time, unchanged on the day.

Clarity Urged

The premier has repeatedly fended off demands for more clarity on her Brexit goals, citing the need to keep her negotiating cards close to her chest to avoid handing an advantage to her EU counterparts. She’s signaled that the ability to control immigration is a red line and suggested she’ll prioritize that and escaping the jurisdiction of European courts over remaining in the EU’s single market.

European officials have stuck to the line that they won’t allow the U.K. to “cherry pick,” with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, saying on Thursday that it’s “very obvious” that any Brexit agreement must be worse for the U.K. than EU membership is.

May promised to give more information in a major address early in 2017 when she testified to a committee of lawmakers in London last month.

“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,” she told Parliament’s Liaison Committee on Dec. 20.

Earlier in December, May agreed to a demand from the opposition Labour Party that her plans should be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. She attached a rider to Labour’s motion to ensure lawmakers respect her self-imposed March 31 deadline for invoking Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

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