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Theresa May: Lancaster House speech (17 Jan 2017) - highlights (Part 2)

Editorial Staff

Following on from Part 1 of our analysis of Theresa May's Brexit speech last week, here are the highlights from and comments on the next part of her plan. And how the plan does not reflect the wishes of the people as recorded in the Referendum.

We will provide certainty wherever we can.

We are about to enter a negotiation. That means there will be give and take. There will have to be compromises. It will require imagination on both sides. And not everybody will be able to know everything at every stage.

But I recognise how important it is to provide business, the public sector, and everybody with as much certainty as possible as we move through the process.

So where we can offer that certainty, we will do so.

That is why last year we acted quickly to give clarity about farm payments and university funding.

And it is why, as we repeal the European Communities Act, we will convert the “acquis” – the body of existing EU law – into British law.

This will give the country maximum certainty as we leave the EU. The same rules and laws will apply on the day after Brexit as they did before. And it will be for the British Parliament to decide on any changes to that law after full scrutiny and proper Parliamentary debate.

And when it comes to Parliament, there is one other way in which I would like to provide certainty. I can confirm today that the Government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament, before it comes into force.

Comment: hang-on. Isn't the point of exit so that we can dump the pesky EU laws we don't want. It's fine to keep those we do want, such as (most of) the labour protection, etc. law but we don't necessarily want it to be illegal to sell meat in pounds and ounces. A wholesale re-adoption of EU law is does not reflect the wishes of the people as recorded in the Referendum and undermines the purpose of exit.


Our second guiding principle is to build a stronger Britain.

2. Control of our own laws

That means taking control of our own affairs, as those who voted in their millions to leave the European Union demanded we must.

So we will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain.

Leaving the European Union will mean that our laws will be made in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. And those laws will be interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg but in courts across this country.

Because we will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws.

Commentary: so the UK will make its own new laws despite having "legacy" laws from the so-called "aquis" which is re-adopted? Does that mean, then, that the re-adopted laws will be reconsidered, amended and/or repealed piecemeal? Of course, logically, that is the only way that it can be done but it's not how it's being presented.


A stronger Britain demands that we do something else – strengthen the precious union between the four nations of the United Kingdom.

At this momentous time, it is more important than ever that we face the future together, united by what makes us strong: the bonds that unite us as a people, and our shared interest in the UK being an open, successful trading nation in the future.

Foreign affairs are of course the responsibility of the UK Government, and in dealing with them we act in the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom. As Prime Minister, I take that responsibility seriously.

I have also been determined from the start that the devolved administrations should be fully engaged in this process.

That is why the Government has set up a Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations, so ministers from each of the UK’s devolved administrations can contribute to the process of planning for our departure from the European Union.

Part of that will mean working very carefully to ensure that – as powers are repatriated from Brussels back to Britain – the right powers are returned to Westminster, and the right powers are passed to the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As we do so, our guiding principle must be to ensure that – as we leave the European Union – no new barriers to living and doing business within our own Union are created,

That means maintaining the necessary common standards and frameworks for our own domestic market, empowering the UK as an open, trading nation to strike the best trade deals around the world, and protecting the common resources of our islands.

And as we do this, I should equally be clear that no decisions currently taken by the devolved administrations will be removed from them.

Comment: while some a vocal in saying that some parts of the UK didn't vote for Brexit and that they feel they have been railroaded, even going to so far as to talk about an independence referendum with a plan to leave the UK and stay in Europe, the reality is that the loss of money that flows from England to the smaller parts of the Union would plunge them into poverty. It's a nationalistic dream in which they could survive only as (very considerable) nett recipients of funding from the EU and the EU already sponsors quite enough as it is. So May's comment about ensuring that the UK functions as it has for hundreds of years, but with local parliaments making local decisions, the current status quo, which works very well if one looks at it dispassionately (and if the English don't mind supporting the other parts of the Union) is the correct course of action.


We cannot forget that, as we leave, the United Kingdom will share a land border with the EU, and maintaining that Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland will be an important priority for the UK in the talks ahead.

There has been a Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland for many years. Indeed, it was formed before either of our two countries were members of the European Union. And the family ties and bonds of affection that unite our two countries mean that there will always be a special relationship between us.

So we will work to deliver a practical solution that allows the maintenance of the Common Travel Area with the Republic, while protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom’s immigration system.

Comment: it's no secret that the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic are somewhat porous. What the UK is concerned to ensure is that the Irish with whom the British has a long and (mostly) close history (even if politically there have been difficulties and, to be clear, in relation to the Republic, those political difficulties lasted a very short time in the scheme of things: the long term problems were in Northern Ireland after partition). But what the UK wants to ensure is that while the freedom of movement that the EU has afforded between the UK and Ireland is not abused by those who use Ireland as a staging post for what would otherwise be an illegal migration to the new UK. Before anyone says "don't be daft" the UK is already struggling with unwanted immigration from outside the EU where a UK citizen marries a non-EU citizen in an EU country which then affords the non-EU citizen EU citizen ship and therefore free entry to the UK.

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