UK Leaders to Play ‘Hardball’ in Talks with EU on Market Access
Sunday, Britain’s leaders signaled their resolve to play hardball in talks with the EU, suggesting they will look for partners elsewhere if the bloc restricts access to its huge market.
Under pressure to reveal her Brexit plan, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she will call for a “truly global Britain” that is more open to the world when she sets out plans for negotiations with the EU in a speech later this week.
Treasury chief Philip Hammond said that Britain is prepared to “do whatever we have to do,” including turning away from Europe to other markets, to protect its economy.
“If Great Britain left the European Union without an agreement on market access, then we could at least in the short term suffer economic damage,” Mr. Hammond was quoted as saying. “In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model.”
Mr. Hammond also suggested that Britain could cut taxes to encourage companies to move to the UK
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested that Mrs. May was prepared to trigger a full-scale “trade war” to get her way.
The comments come amid a standoff over migration into Britain.
While Britain wants to curtail immigration from Europe, the EU says the UK must abide by rules guaranteeing the free movement of people if it wants to retain tariff-free access to the bloc’s market of more than 500-M people.
British media interpreted the leaders statements as a further sign that Mrs. May is prepared to leave the EU without any form of privileged relationship, an option often described as “hard Brexit.”
Similar comments last week caused the GBP to fall to its lowest level against the USD since October on concerns about damage to the British economy.
David Davis, the British Secretary of State for exiting the EU, underscored the government’s position by saying Britain would “respect the views of the British people” and demand control over immigration.
“We will bring back control over our laws and make our own decisions on immigration, we will aim to maintain cooperation on security as it is now, if not enhance it, and we will seek the most open possible market with the EU while furthering trade links with the rest of the world,” he wrote in an op-ed piece in the Sunday Times.
Mrs. May has said for months that she will invoke Article 50 of the EU’s key treaty, formally beginning the process of negotiating Britain’s departure, by 31 March 2017.
However, she has refused to reveal details about Britain’s goals or its negotiating strategy, arguing that to do so would weaken Britain’s hand.
In testimony to lawmakers last week, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said that Brexit poses a greater threat to financial stability in Europe than in the UK.
Any disruption in Britain’s sprawling financial services sector could restrict the flow of capital to European businesses that rely on UK-based institutions for big-money transactions.
“I am not saying there are not financial stability risks in the UK. And there are economic risks to the UK. But there are greater short-term risks on the continent in the transition than there are in the UK,” Mr. Carney said.
Have a terrific weekend
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