PM confirms single market exit and final Parliament vote on Brexit deal

Theresa May has said her plans for Britain to be a "truly global" trading nation cannot allow the UK to remain in the European single market.

In her clearest statement yet on her Brexit plans, the prime minister announced the final Brexit deal reached between the UK and EU will be put to a vote of both Houses of Parliament. It was later confirmed the Parliamentary vote on the deal would be legally binding.

The prime minister outlined her 12 priorities for negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union and confirmed she will seek an end to the country's existing trading arrangements.

Mrs May said Britain would aim instead to achieve the "greatest possible access" to the single market - the tariff-free EU trading bloc that demands free movement of people - "on a reciprocal basis" through a "bold new free trade agreement".

Mrs May also said she wanted to remain part of a customs agreement with the remaining 27 EU states.

But she said she had an "open mind" over whether it would be through associate membership of the Customs Union - which secures free trade between the EU states - or through another arrangement.

Mrs May outlined her 12-point plan which she said would provide a "framework" for Brexit negotiations:

  • Certainty wherever possible

  • Control of our own laws

  • Strengthening the United Kingdom

  • Maintaining the common travel area with Ireland

  • Control of immigration

  • Rights for EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU

  • Enhancing rights for workers

  • Free trade with European markets

  • New trade agreements with other countries

  • A leading role in science and innovation

  • Cooperation on crime, terrorism and foreign affairs

  • A phased approach delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit

Mrs May declared her dozen objectives add up to "one big goal: a new, positive and constructive partnership between Britain and the European Union".

She confirmed she did not want the UK to be "half-in, half-out" of the EU after the divorce negotiations, nor seek "to hold on to bits of membership" to achieve a "partial" or "associate" membership of the EU.

The prime minister's key speech was watched closely for an indication she is ready to commit to a hard Brexit.

Mrs May's audience at London's Lancaster House included diplomats from EU states as she made an address that will be examined closely by politicians, businesses, unions and voters.

Mrs May said her vision of post-Brexit Britain is for "a great, global trading nation" that will be "more outward-looking than ever before" while remaining "the best friend and neighbour" to the 27 EU member states.

She said it was overwhelmingly in the UK's interests that the EU should succeed - but made it clear she was committed to securing a trading arrangement unlike anything currently in existence with any other nation.

Mrs May said the British people voted for "a brighter future for their children" when they opted - by a vote of 52% to 48% - to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum.

She said her Brexit negotiations would be driven by the principles of certainty and clarity and the aims to make Britain stronger, fairer and "truly global".

She spoke on the same day Brexit Secretary David Davis outlined the government's plans to MPs in the House of Commons.

The key addresses came less than a dozen weeks before the prime minister's end-of-March deadline for triggering withdrawal talks under Article 50 of the EU treaties.

MPs on the Commons Brexit Committee last week demanded Mrs May issue her Brexit plan as a document by mid-February.