'We're in Hell': Twitter reacts to Theresa May's Road to Brexit speech

"Real political difficulties" lie ahead for Brexit, EU summit chair Donald Tusk said after Prime Minister Theresa May gave him a preview of the vision of future trade ties she will unveil on Friday.

LONDON - Theresa May today rejected growing demands for Britain to retain close ties to European Union customs and trade rules after Brexit, as she set out the government's plans in a major speech in central London.

Any hard border or a customs border in the Irish Sea which would break up the UK's common market would be unacceptable, she added.

And she will insist that she will only sign a deal that benefits the whole of Britain and can "bring our country back together".

"We would, of course, accept that this would mean abiding by the rules of those agencies and making an appropriate financial contribution", she said, adding that such an agreement would bring significant benefits to the United Kingdom, including ensuring products only need to undergo one series of approvals, in one country. Over lunch in London, an European Union official said, Tusk focused on plans for future ties, talks on which should finally get under way next month after an interim deal on divorce issues was struck in December. But her references to heading a government "driven not by the interests of the privileged few", "the powerful" and "the mighty", would have solicited groans and boos from any but the selected audience she addressed.

She did not provide details on what a future arrangement on financial services could look like but said: "The chancellor will be setting out next week how financial services can and should be part of a deep and comprehensive partnership".

She revealed these would be: delivering an enduring solution, protecting security and prosperity, leaving Britain as an open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy and strengthening the union of the UK.

- Measures to maintain links between people.

"I think it was an innovative solution earlier this week when in the Labour party we put forward the idea that we would have a customs union but not like one the EU now has where the Commission makes all the rules and the countries have to follow it".

"Nor is Brexit an end in itself. So we need to strike a new balance".

With just a year to go until Britain leaves the European Union, talks on the future relationship are about to start and May needs to get her divided team behind her at last beforehand.

"Abandoning such ideas will enable us to begin building an ambitious future partnership based on the foundation of realism and in the interests of our citizens and our businesses, and this is my objective".

"We will not be buffeted by demands to talk tough or threats to walk out", May said in the speech. Just as we will not accept the counsels of despair that this simply can not be done. "We will move forward by calm patient discussions of each others decisions".

But the prime minister also reserved the right to diverge from European Union policies where necessary.

"And in the face of a worrying rise in protectionism, I believe such agreements can enable us to set an example to the world".

May on Friday proposed having either a customs partnership, where Britain would implement European Union tariffs on its border for goods intended for the European Union, but could set different ones for goods going elsewhere or a streamlined customs arrangement, where jointly implemented measures would minimise frictions to trade.

That is why we will be seeking more than just an adequacy arrangement and want to see an appropriate ongoing role for the UK's Information Commissioner's Office.

  • Leroy Wright