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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Theresa May promises a ‘Brexit for all’ as final year countdown begins

PM sets off on a national tour to promote idea that leaving Europe can be acceptable to leavers and remainers alike

An anti-Brexit demonstrator waves a Union flag as he stands draped in a European Union flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London. AFP/Tolga AKMEN
An anti-Brexit demonstrator waves a Union flag as he stands draped in a European Union flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London. AFP/Tolga AKMEN

British prime minister Theresa May will embark on a national tour on Thursday during which she will attempt to sell the divided UK politician the idea that Brexit can work for those who were on either side of the polarised national debate about leaving Europe.

She will begin her tour in Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU, before travelling to the north east of England, a key leave region. Subsequent trips to Northern Ireland and Wales will see her visit parts of the UK with unique split views on the rupture with the continent.

The majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted to stay, but the Democratic Unionist Party – which props up Mrs May’s minority government in the House of Commons – favoured leaving the union. And while Wales has received large amounts of funding from the EU to regenerate former coal-mining areas, it voted as a majority to break with Europe.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mrs May said: “Today, one year until the UK leaves the EU and begins to chart a new course in the world, I am visiting all four nations of the Union to hear from people across our country what Brexit means to them.

“I am determined that as we leave the EU, and in the years ahead, we will strengthen the bonds that unite us, because ours is the world’s most successful union. The UK contains four proud and historic nations, but together we amount to so much more than the sum of our parts and our Union is an enormous force for good.”

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Addressing global issues, Mrs May said the “UK stands up for liberal and democratic values and leads the world in international development action. And we see the enormous benefits of our Union at home too, as we face challenges together, freely pooling and sharing risks and rewards as one united people.”

When Britain leaves the EU on March 29, 2019, “powers will return from Brussels to the parliaments and assemblies of the UK, closer to the people we all serve and with greater ability to deliver for their needs. Each of the devolved nations will see an increase in their decision-making powers. Make no mistake, this government is absolutely committed to the devolution settlements as we have demonstrated beyond question with landmark pieces of legislation over the last few years.

But, Mrs May said, “as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I have an absolute responsibility to protect the integrity of the United Kingdom as a whole. That means ensuring that no new barriers are created within our common domestic market and that the UK is able to meet its international obligations in the future. No Prime Minister could leave these things to chance, because they are absolutely crucial to our success as a country in the future.”

With many business organisations aghast at the idea of the country leaving the Single Market, Mrs May sought to allay fears that Brexit would impoverish the UK.

“The government is taking action to benefit the whole [country], from supporting the security services that keep us all safe and pursuing a modern industrial strategy which will deliver jobs and economic growth in every community, to pursuing an international trade policy which will open up new markets for our world-beating exports around the world,” she concluded.

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