Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, said:
The Prime Minister struck a welcome and surprisingly balanced tone in her Brexit speech today, emphasising the need for a deep, comprehensive deal with the European Union that removes tariff, regulatory and customs barriers to trade between the UK and the EU. Her preference for a phased withdrawal from the EU gives negotiators time to work out the details in reducing regulatory barriers to trade, and help to facilitate the British economy’s transition to the new arrangements in place.
The ‘global Britain’ angle is good news, too. Britain can be more nimble than the EU at negotiating free trade deals with the world’s largest economies, and we’re delighted that the Prime Minister sees Brexit as a chance to make Britain a world leader in free trade. As she rightly said, trade is not a zero sum game – the more open we are to it with both the EU and the rest of the world, the richer we’ll all be.
Ultimately, it is confirmation that she is looking to get a Brexit deal that can satisfy a majority of both Leavers and Remainers, uniting the country – a point that Mrs May stressed, to her credit. Some will be unhappy that she is not defaulting to WTO rules, some that she is leaving the single market. By striking a middle course between the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit options, May will be attacked by die-hard Remainers and Leavers alike. But she should take heart: a good compromise leaves everyone mad.
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