Friday

30th Sep 2022

Britain to issue EU ultimatum on Tuesday

  • May invited the other 27 EU ambassadors to hear her speech (Photo: Reuters)

Theresa May aims to tell the EU that she is prepared to quit the single market if she does not get her way in Brexit talks, with one option being to turn the UK into a tax haven.

The British leader is to issue the ultimatum at a speech in Lancaster House, a London mansion, to ambassadors from the other 27 EU states on Tuesday (17 January), The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, reported, citing Downing Street sources.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Hammond (r) had voted to remain in the EU (Photo: Reuters)

She will say that Britain must “respect the result” of the Brexit referendum, in which people called for limits on EU immigration and for restoration of British sovereignty over EU institutions.

“The overwhelming majority of people - however they voted - say we need to get on and make Brexit happen,” she will say.

“Business isn’t calling to reverse the result, but planning to make a success of it. And the House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly for us to get on with it too”, she will say.

She is also expected to make friendlier remarks, saying the UK and the EU should aim for a “strong new partnership”, and that the Leave and Remain camps in British society should end “division and the language associated with it”.

“The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the result,” she will say.

A Downing Street source said London expects currency traders to make a “market correction” after May speaks out.

The Sunday Times report itself prompted the value of sterling to fall further against the dollar on Monday.

EU leaders have said that the UK cannot suspend freedom of movement for European workers and retain full access to trade perks.

But even Britain’s pro-EU ministers are lining up behind May to take a tough line when Brexit negotiations begin at the end of March.

Tax-haven UK

Speaking to Welt am Sonntag, a German newspaper, on Sunday, the British finance chief, Philip Hammond, indicated that the UK could turn itself into a tax haven to compete with the EU for international commerce if Brexit talks do not end well.

When asked by the newspaper if the UK could become “the tax haven of Europe”, he said that if Britain was “closed off” from the EU market, then “we will do whatever we have to do”.

“The British people are not going to lie down and say: ‘Too bad. We’ve been wounded.’ We will change our model”, he said.

“Most of us who had voted remain would like the UK to remain a recognisably European-style economy, with European-style taxation systems, European-style regulation systems etc. I personally hope we will be able to remain in the mainstream of European economic and social thinking. But if we are forced to be something different, then we will have to become something different”, he said.

David Davis, the Brexit minister, also issued a threat against the EU.

“We don’t want the EU to fail, we want it to prosper politically and economically,” he wrote in The Sunday Times.

“If it proves necessary, we have said we will consider time for implementation of new arrangements,” he added, however.

The British opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, reacted to the Sunday Times report by telling the BBC that May was heading for a “trade war” with the EU and by saying Hammond wanted to turn the UK into a “bargain-basement economy”.

Immigration

May’s Northern Ireland minister, James Brokenshire, told the same BBC show that May would not compromise on EU immigration, however.

“We take a very stark message from the referendum that freedom of movement, as it exists today, cannot continue,” he said.

Hammond also told the German newspaper that unchecked EU immigration had to “stop”.

He said that chancellor Angela Merkel had lost control of migration policy after 1 million asylum seekers arrived in Germany last year.

“At the moment, we [the UK] don’t have any control, not any more than Germany does”, he said.

Theresa May outlines 'hard Brexit'

The British prime minister confirms that the UK will leave the single market when it leaves the EU and will seek a new trade deal.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  2. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  3. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'we are not going to resign...anywhere'
  4. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  5. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  6. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  7. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy
  8. How US tech giants play EU states off against each other

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us