Britain will not seek a partial membership in the European Union that leaves it “half in, half out”, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday, signaling she will push for a clean break from the 28-member bloc.
May’s statement on her vision for “a Global Britain” was the clearest expression yet, since a majority of Britons voted to leave the union on June 23, of the government’s intentions in Brexit negotiations with its EU partners.
”We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries,” she said in a speech to foreign diplomats in London. “We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.”
Anticipation of a speech that would signal the government’s intention to pursue a “hard” Brexit sent the pound plummeting on Monday.
The currency recovered ahead of the speech on Tuesday and continued to rise in a volatile market as she spoke.
A central element of May’s plan is that Britain will leave the single market. The “Remain” camp had hoped to retain membership in the market even after Brexit. “Instead, we seek the greatest possible access to it,” she said.
The single market allows unrestricted trade in goods and services within the EU and free movement of citizens within the 28-member bloc.
Although the one-line referendum question in June did not specify what kind of Brexit was being offered, the vote to leave was interpreted as a widespread rejection of such unrestricted immigration.
The prime minister said she sought a “stronger, fairer, more united kingdom” and “a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe”.
May also confirmed that the UK would withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, the highest court in matters of European Union law.
The prime minister is due to trigger the EU’s Article 50 in March to formally launch a two-year negotiating period.
However, the Supreme Court is widely expected to back a legal challenge that would oblige the government to subject that process to a parliamentary debate during which its Brexit strategy might be challenged.