May's plan for Brexit is bold and ambitious

Christian May
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Theresa May Leaves Downing Street To Attend A Commons Liaison Committee
Theresa May has said her plan to quit the EU will involve 12 key objectives (Source: Getty)

Critics of the Prime Minister (and of the whole notion of Brexit) had clung for months to the charge that she didn't have a plan and that the government was in chaos.

Yesterday, the PM shot their fox. It is, of course, still possible to oppose Brexit, but no longer possible to claim the government doesn't have a plan for how to deliver it – or how to forge a future outside the European Union.

Ending months of speculation, May confirmed that the UK will leave the Single Market.

Read more: "No deal" or "Bad deal" - Six things we learned from May's Brexit speech

It seems Brexit really does mean Brexit. There will be no attempt to arrive at part-membership, such as the approach used by Norway.

With this admission, May scuppered the final hopes of Remain campaigners that some form of Single Market membership could be salvaged from what they see as the wreckage of the referendum result.

Instead, the government promises a future relationship with the EU unlike any currently enjoyed by another country.

Read more: This is what the City thought of Theresa May's Brexit speech

It's a bold ambition, but there can be no denying that May goes into the negotiations with a strong set of cards.

As has already been acknowledged by the EU's chief negotiator, the City of London is of vital importance to European businesses and it is firmly in the interests of both sides to maintain a stable environment for financial and professional services.

Furthermore, the UK is not a newcomer at the gates of Europe, asking for a seat at the table - since it helped to build the table in the first place.

In other words, it is obvious that any future deal should reflect the UK's special status as a longterm member and a major European economy.

Read more: Insurers quietly optimistic over PM's Brexit plans

This has already been pointed out by none other than Germany's Europe minister. In the City, May's speech has provided some much sought-after clarity, and the focus on transitional arrangements gives a softer edge to what is definitely a hard Brexit. And what if the EU seeks to punish the UK?

What if belligerent politicians are determined to make an example of us, despite the damage such action would inflict on their own economies? Well then as the PM said, the UK is prepared to walk away from the negotiations.

You may not like Theresa May's plan, but she's certainly got one.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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