Theresa May opts for a soft Brexit with an EU-UK Free Trade Area
09 July 2018
Britain is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, but will still maintain a free trade arrangement with the European Union as per the Brexit strategy thrashed out by the Theresa May cabinet.\
Under the EU- UK Free Trade Area, Britain will remain closely aligned to the EU’s single market on agriculture and goods via a “common rule book.” However, the services sector will be excluded from this FTA, although Britain would remain within a “combined customs territory.”
“As a result, we avoid friction in terms of trade, which protects jobs and livelihoods, as well as meeting our commitments in Northern Ireland,” said Theresa May.
While Theresa May won legislators’ backing for the Brexit plan that will see Britain closely aligned to EU’s single market on agriculture and goods, industry and European leaders have given a cautious welcome to the cabinet agreement on the strategy thrashed out on Friday.
On Saturday, the prime minister further elaborated her position that would include ending free movement, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and exiting the EU’s common agricultural and fisheries policies.
The agreement followed a summit at the Prime Minister’s country retreat, Chequers, that helped soothe the tensions and the deadlock over what Britain’s future negotiating strategy should be when it comes to business.
Ahead of Friday’s cabinet meeting industry, including the country’s biggest car maker Jaguar Land Rover, warned May over the dangers of a hard Brexit while some pro-Brexit Conservatives had publicly urged the Prime Minister to not give into what they saw as a campaign for a “soft Brexit.”
The prime minister seemed ready to face revolt over Brexit plans and, according to a report in The Times, cards for the local Taxi service had been placed in the foyer of Chequers to ferry anyone who resigned.
While a number of businesses have expressed concerns about the lack of direction and clarity, luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover had warned the government that a bad Brexit deal would put its future investment in the UK under threat.
Experts see some positives for India since the UK has excluded services from Brexit deal. This, they say, would help address some of the concerns of Indian businesses in the UK.
With 80 per cent of the UK economy focused on services, they say, India would be in a very strong negotiating position.
Michel Barnier, who is leading the EU’s negotiations with Britain also welcomed the agreement and said they looked forward to the draft proposals due to be published next week to see if they were “workable & realistic.”