By: Eastern Eye Staff
Theresa May has highlighted her plans for Britain to carve out a trade deal with India and other countries as she prepares to lead the UK out of the European Union.
The prime minister outlined the details of her strategy to exit the EU in a major speech on Tuesday (17), where she confirmed that Britain would leave the single market in order to control EU immigration.
May also warned the EU against imposing harsh terms on Britain’s split from the bloc after more than four decades of membership.
She also revealed that Britain would look to strike a new customs agreement with the EU to be able to enter into its own trade deals with the rest of the world.
May said it was clear that the UK needed to increase its trade significantly with some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
She explained it was time for Britain to get “out into the world and rediscover its role as a great, global, trading nation”.
“This is such a priority for me that when I became prime minister I established, for the first time, a department for international trade, led by Dr Liam Fox,” May said.
“We want to get out into the wider world, to trade and do business all around the globe. Countries including China, Brazil, and the Gulf States have already expressed their interest in striking trade deals with us.”
“We have started discussions on future trade ties with countries like Australia, New Zealand and India,” she added.
Indian business owners expressed optimism about Britain’s future trading relationship with the country.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Indian billionaire and founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises, said: “India and the UK have been trying to do a lot of things together. I have been wishing and hoping for this [Brexit] to happen… but we have been prevented from (doing a trade deal) by the UK being part of the EU. That’s done, it is separate now… and I am optimistic.”
The new Indian high commissioner to the UK, Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, told guests at India House on Monday (16): “We have a very good economic engagement with the UK, with trade in goods about $14 billion (£11bn) and another $5 bn (£4bn) in services.
“But besides that, the UK is very important in terms of investment, being the largest G20 investor into India and 800 Indian companies operate here, bringing about £1bn plus in taxes to the exchequer and employing over 100,000 people.”
The leader of the Tory party said MPs would also get a vote on any final Brexit agreement negotiated with Brussels.
EU leaders have insisted that membership of the single market means accepting free movement – a key issue in Britain’s shock referendum result to leave the 28-member organisation.
“Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe. And that is what we will deliver,” May told foreign ambassadors in London, including the Indian high commissioner.
“What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market,” she added.
EU president Donald Tusk said her speech gave a “more realistic” picture of what the UK wanted.
“Sad process, surrealistic times but at least more realistic announcement on #Brexit. EU27 united and ready to negotiate after Art 50,” Tusk tweeted.
Britain has two years to negotiate a break-up deal once May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, officially declaring the country’s intention to quit, or face leaving with no agreement in place.
May said London could accept departing on such terms if Brussels played hardball, but it would hurt the EU more than it would damage Britain.
“No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain,” she asserted.
The prime minister has promised to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, and said she was confident final settlements could be negotiated within the two-year time frame.
“It is in no one’s interests for there to be a cliff-edge for business or a threat to stability, as we change from our existing relationship to a new partnership with the EU,” May said.
“We will do everything we can to phase in the new arrangements we require as Britain and the EU move towards our new partnership.”
Seeking to calm fears of a sudden jolt to the economy on leaving the bloc in 2019, May said she would seek a “phased process of implementation”.
EU countries accounted for 44 per cent of Britain’s total exports in goods and services in 2015, with the country recording a £68.6bn trade deficit with the bloc.
In her speech, May outlined her 12 negotiating priorities, including limiting immigration, exiting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and ending full membership of the Customs Union that sets external tariffs for goods imported into the EU.
Full membership in the customs union prevented Britain making its own trade deals, May said, but she still wanted a deal to keep trade with Europe as “frictionless as possible”.
Meanwhile, Brexit minister David Davis said Britain would still accept some unskilled migration after it leaves the EU.
“A level of unskilled migration is likely to continue,” Davis told parliament. “Where from, how it is controlled, will all be a matter for the new immigration policy.”