Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech earlier this month outlining her and the government’s plans for leaving the EU. She confirmed again she is planning to trigger Article 50 (which then starts the process of leaving the EU) by 31st March 2017. This process can take up to two years and suggests some uncertainty for the coming few years. Nobody can guess what will happen, even May herself, telling the public the road ahead will be ‘uncertain’ at times.
The PM spoke of the 52% of leave voters who ‘voted for change’ and seemed to take great care in addressing leave voters, showing that she is taking into account their vote. Theresa May argues Britain will be “stronger, fairer, more united and more outward looking than ever before” after leaving the EU. However this is up for debate and personal opinion, much of the country is divided on the matter. Theresa May also stated that we cannot remain a member of the single market. That would mean we (Britain) do not have specific trade deals within the European Union. May argues we must be able to strike deals outside of the EU, and in turn, we would not contribute to the EU budget.
May’s argument was very much this. Leaving the EU does not mean Britain can not be an inclusive member and have poor trade. Quite the opposite, Britain can choose its trade deals and become a ‘global Britain’ free to trade with countries they choose. May tries to convey Britain is open for business, that after leaving the EU, we ‘call the shots.’
Unsurprisingly, this speech did make an impact. It gave a certainty of some kind to the public and businesses in the UK of what direction things would happen. There was a surge in the GBP currency, suggesting that many took reassurance from what the PM said.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, spoke on LBC radio calling May’s speech ‘strong, clear, new, decisive, I loved it.’ Farage, a strong campaigner for leave and Brexit agreed that “we are going global”. He stated he was “reasonably encouraged by things she has said” and that he had said things like this for years and now the PM was saying those things. A milestone in his opinion and could be interpreted as a far shift to the right for the Conservative government.
A different opinion came from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who before has come under fire about where his loyalties lie regarding the European Union. The leader of the opposition states the prime minister has made clear she will use Brexit to turn Britain into a ‘bargain basement tax haven.’ He later adds, “she talks about Brexit restoring parliamentary sovereignty but, once again, she is determined to avoid real scrutiny of her plans.”
Laurenne Farber, a french student at City University of London told me her worries about Britain leaving the EU. “The process of getting out of the EU hasn’t started yet but since the result of the referendum, Brexit has been a source of anxiety because I didn’t know if I was still entitled to the same loans and grants.” This is for many EU students studying at University in the UK a worrying prospect. Laurenne told me it would be a loss for the UK if the number of EU students decreased. When asked for her opinion on May’s speech, her reply seemed reminiscent of many remain campaigners “To me May’s approach of Brexit feels nationalist. The irony is that since the referendum, the UK seems more divided than ever.”