UK's May stands firm on pledge to leave EU
Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30
Brexit offers the UK the opportunity to establish itself as "one of the great trading nations in the world", British Prime Minister Theresa May has told her Cabinet.
British ministers yesterday met for the first time after the summer recess at the prime minister's country residence, Chequers.
Mrs May repeated her pledge that "Brexit means Brexit" and promised that there would be no second EU referendum and no attempt to stay in the EU "by the back door".
Ministers had been told to deliver an analysis at the meeting of the opportunities which withdrawal from the European Union presents for their department. Mrs May's official spokeswoman said: "Ministers agreed that we should be seizing the opportunity of Brexit to confirm the UK's place as one of the great trading nations in the world, fostering entrepreneurialism and setting out a long-term vision for the country."
The meeting also restated the government's commitment to "fiscal discipline and living within our means".
The meeting came amid continuing uncertainty over the form that Britain's future relationship with the EU will take.
The prime minister fuelled speculation that she will reject the much-discussed Norwegian and Swiss models - which allow access to the single market but no say on EU rule-making - and demand a new arrangement which is tailor made for the UK.
Mrs May told Ms Solberg and Finnish PM Juha Sipila that she will not invoke Article 50 before the end of this year, in order to give the UK and EU time to prepare for negotiations and to help ensure the process is "as smooth as possible", said Downing Street.
Former business minister Anna Soubry - who supported the failed Remain campaign - said Britain should push for a deal that preserves access to the single market and free movement for EU citizens.
She told Radio 4's Today programme she would be "concerned about any plans to curb immigration" from Europe, which had "benefited our country, especially business".
But former chancellor and Brexit campaigner Lord Lawson said Article 50 should be tabled as soon as possible and Britain should not "waste time trying to negotiate" a special trade deal with the EU. "A long period of uncertainty is bad for the economy and British business, and the sooner this is sorted out the better," Lord Lawson said.