Theresa May Says Britain Will Leave the Single Market

17 January, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain will leave the European Union's single market.

May spoke to government employees and diplomats at Lancaster House in London on Tuesday. She had been under pressure to provide a plan following Britain's vote last June to leave the European Union.

May also said Britain will break with the European Court of Justice. She said the U.K. must regain control of its laws and borders, and will seek a new trade agreement with the E.U.

May said that the final plan would be presented to parliament for a vote.

Good news for the pound

The speech appeared to lend support to the British pound, which has fallen around 19 percent against the U.S. dollar since the vote. Shortly after May described her vision of free trade and strong economic ties, the pound rose in value.

Leaving the single market

The E.U. single market makes it easy for EU nations to trade with one another. It permits free movement of goods, workers, and services around the E.U. without tariffs. Some non-E.U. countries, such as Norway, have made agreements with the E.U. that permit them to be part of the single market if they meet conditions.

The possibility of losing access to the single market has worried many people in Britain's large financial services industry.

In her speech, May said she wants to create a new relationship with the E.U. based on free trade.

"This agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the E.U.'s member states. It should give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets, and let European businesses do the same in Britain," May said.

The E.U. has created separate customs union agreements with countries that vary in their rules and what goods are covered.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to deliver a speech on leaving the European Union at Lancaster House in London, Jan. 17, 2017.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to deliver a speech on leaving the European Union at Lancaster House in London, Jan. 17, 2017.

New immigration rules

May also spoke about immigration: "The message from the public before and during the referendum campaign was clear: Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe. And that is what we will deliver."

The exact model for such control has not yet been confirmed. The British government has said that all possibilities are being considered.

However, May tried to calm fears that the Brexit will mean a more inward-looking Britain. She said she wants the country to be "stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before."

I'm Phil Dierking

This story was originally written for by. Phil Dierking adapted this story for Learning English using other media. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

access – n. a way of getting near, at, or to something or someone

Brexit - n. a term for the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

tariff– n. a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country.

vision - n. something that you imagine.