THERESA MAY has denied that the UK government’s approach to the Brexit process is muddled and said that the country cannot expect to hold on to “bits” of its EU membership after leaving the bloc.
The prime minister also suggested that the government is prioritising control of the UK’s borders over access to the single market.
Speaking on Sky News in her first televised interview of 2017, Mrs May said: “Often people talk in terms as if somehow we are leaving the EU but we still want to kind of keep bits of membership of the EU. We are leaving. We are coming out. We are not going to be a member of the EU any longer.”
Sir Ivan Rogers, who resigned from his post as UK ambassador to the EU last week, has criticised “ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking” among British MPs.
Mrs May rejected this view during the interview, however, as she said: “Anybody who looks at this question of free movement and trade as a sort of zero-sum game is approaching it in the wrong way.
“I’m ambitious for what we can get for the UK in terms of our relationship with the European Union because I also think that’s going to be good for the European Union. Our thinking on this isn’t muddled at all.”
She added that it was “important for us to take our time” in order to scrutinise “the complexity of the issues.”
When pressed on whether she was prepared to relinquish single market access in exchange for control over immigration, Mrs May said that it is not a “binary choice” before adding: “The question is what is the right relationship for the UK to have with the European Union when we are outside. We will be able to have control of our borders, control of our laws.
“This is what people were voting for on 23 June. But of course we still want the best possible deal for us, companies to be able to trade, UK companies to be able to trade in and operate within the European Union, and also European companies to be able to trade with the UK and operate within the UK.”