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Britisches Parlament Brexit Kabinettsitzung
Image: Reuters/S. Rousseau/Pool

May wants 'unique' post-Brexit relationship with EU

August 31, 2016

Britain's prime minister has said her government will try to negotiate a way to stem immigration and maintain key trade deals. She announced that exit procedures won't begin until next year.


British Prime Minister Theresa May convened her cabinet for the first time since the summer break on Wednesday, saying through a spokesperson that the government would seek a unique relationship with the European Union rather than an "off-the-shelf solution."

"The PM said that there were two related imperatives: getting the best deal for people at home, and getting the right deal for Britain abroad," said the spokeswoman, adding that "this must mean controls on the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe, but also a positive outcome for those who wish to trade goods and services."

Many had been waiting for May to end the summer of political uncertainty with a decisive plan on how Britain would move forward - but specific details of such a plan were scarce.

What the government did say, however, was that it would wait until next year to trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, which would begin the country's official exit, in order develop a solid set of points from which to negotiate.

May: No new referendum

The prime minister was clear that there would be no second referendum and "no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the back door."

Instead, the UK will seek to eke out a deal which will give Britain the controls it wants on immigration while maintaining good trade agreements with Europe.

One suggestion came from the finance minister, Philip Hammond, one of the few anti-Brexit campaigners May has in her cabinet, that the UK maintain trade deals on a "sector-to-sector" basis, with an emphasis on keeping favorable conditions for its key financial sector.

But other cabinet members, including a newly created position to help navigate the Brexit, have said that curbing immigration can only come if the country exits the single market completely. These sentiments were backed up by French President Francois Hollande, who said on Tuesday that Britain couldn't be part of the single market, even in a patchwork sense, unless it upheld the EU's four freedoms – one of which is free movement between member nations.

es/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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