In the most eagerly awaited speech of her career, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May set out the course for Britain’s exit from the European Union. She confirmed largely what had been leaked from her office over the previous days in asserting that Britain will be severing its ties with the union’s single market. The news has served as a blow to the business community, and the FTSE dipped as the speech was delivered.
May had asserted that Britain staying in the single market would be essentially the same as not leaving the union. Though she also noted in what will be a relief to many, that the final negotiated deal will be voted upon in the house of commons.
May’s opposing party leaders were quick to attack the speech with Jeremy Corbyn asserting that there were “enormous dangers” contained within the speech. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron had noted that he was “disappointed, but not surprised” at the contents of the speech. Mr Farron has been pushing for the country as a whole to have a referendum on the negotiated settlement, but that hasn’t come to fruition. He also noted that May had given in to the hard right of the Conservative party in not trying to negotiate access to the single market, and even being willing to sever the customs union.
This will now turn the spotlight on to the issue of Scotland’s wish to remain a part of the European union. She had previously promised to do all she could to defend the right of Scot’s to remain in the trading bloc. The path set out by Mrs May undoubtedly puts them on a collision course. It will also reignite the possibility of Scotland once again holding an independence referendum. Though Scottish Conservatives are desperately trying to prevent this from happening. Whatever happens the pressure is now on Sturgeon to deliver on her promises.
There is also going to be significant pressure on Mrs May. As the government are due to begin “Brexit” negotiations in March there will be significant pressure in the meantime from those who are bound to be affected by Britain leaving the Union. There will also be significant pressure from the 48% of Britons who voted to remain. This speech will undoubtedly make them feel extremely left out. Many had argued that the closeness of the referendum meant that there should be a softer approach, but that has all been swept aside by Mrs May for reasons only she will know. But today will certainly be a landmark day in her career and for the wider UK as well.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.