Birmingham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Following British Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of a deadline for the country to start negotiations to leave the European Union, here are five key Brexit points from her Sunday speech.
-March 2017 deadline-
Speaking at the opening of her governing centre-right Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham, central England, May said her government would start the process to leave the EU within the next six months.
To kick-start negotiations Britain must invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty — which sets a maximum two-year clock ticking until a country’s departure from the 28-member bloc.
“There will be no unnecessary delays in invoking Article 50. We will invoke it when we are ready. And we will be ready soon. We will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year,” May said.
-No vote in parliament-
The prime minister rejected the notion that Article 50 could be subject to a vote in parliament — which would open the possibility of MPs trying to block Britain’s divorce from Europe.
“It is up to the government to trigger Article 50 and the government alone,” she said, accusing those calling for a wider vote of trying to subvert democracy.
“Theyâre not trying to get Brexit right, theyâre trying to kill it by delaying it. They are insulting the intelligence of the British people.”
In the June 23 referendum on Britain’s EU membership, 52 percent voted to leave.
-No opt-out from Brexit-
Within the kingdom, while England and Wales voted for the UK to leave, a majority in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted for the UK to stay. May said despite the division, the country will be united in leaving the EU.
“We voted in the referendum as one United Kingdom, we will negotiate as one UK, and we will leave the EU as one UK. There is no opt-out from Brexit,” she said.
“And I will never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious union between the four nations of our United Kingdom.”
Immigration was a focal point of the leave campaign, with Brexit backers calling for an end to freedom of movement which allows citizens from EU member states to live elsewhere within the bloc.
In her speech the British prime minister said it would be up to the UK to decide how to manage immigration.
“We have voted to leave the European Union and become a fully-independent, sovereign country. We will do what independent, sovereign countries do.
“We will decide for ourselves how we control immigration. And we will be free to pass our own laws,” she said.
EU leaders have insisted Britain will not be able to sweep aside the EU’s freedom of movement principle while holding onto free trade with Europe.
But speaking on Sunday, May insisted Britain would push for access to the single market while also having autonomy over immigration laws.
“I want it to involve free trade, in goods and services. I want it to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the single market — and let European businesses do the same here.
“But let me be clear. We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again,” she said.