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Theresa May
British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her keynote speech on Brexit at Lancaster House in London Kirsty Wigglesworth/Getty Images

Welcome to IBTimes UK's live coverage of Theresa May's speech on Brexit from Lancaster House. Stay with us for moment-by-moment updates from the speech and reactions to what is the prime minister's most significant address on Brexit since taking office in September 2016. Here are the top lines so far.

  • Theresa May delivers major Brexit speech
  • May unveils plan for clean break from EU
  • 'No deal for Britain better than a bad deal'
  • 'We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.'
  • Leaving single market but with 'greatest possible access to it'
  • Final Brexit deal with the EU will be put to parliament
  • EU and UK will have 'constructive partnership' after Brexit

That's it from our live blog. Now all Theresa May has to do is actually deliver the Brexit she is promising, which should be easy enough. Thanks for joining us and see you on the other side of Article 50.

Some helpful context for the sterling fluctuations today... We are some way off July's peak.

During May's speech she outlined 12 objectives or principles held by the government about how it goes about negotiating Brexit, and the type of deal it wants to secure. Here they are in short:

1. Certainty
2. Control of our own laws
3. Strengthen the Union
4. Maintain the Common Travel Area with Ireland
5. Control of immigration
6. Rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU
7. Protect workers' rights
8. Free trade with European markets
9. New trade agreements with other countries
10. The best place for science and innovation
11. Cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism
12. A smooth, orderly Brexit

Pretty much.

Here are some key lines from May's speech:

The result of the referendum was not a decision to turn inward and retreat from the world.


I know many fear that this might herald the beginning of a greater unravelling of the EU. But let me be clear: I do not want that to happen. It would not be in the best interests of Britain. It remains overwhelmingly and compellingly in Britain's national interest that the EU should succeed.


As a priority, we will pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. This agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU's member states. It should give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets – and let European businesses do the same in Britain. But I want to be clear. What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market.


We do not seek membership of the single market. Instead we seek the greatest possible access to it through a new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement.


I can confirm today that the government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament, before it comes into force.


Now, I want Britain to be able to negotiate its own trade agreements. But I also want tariff-free trade with Europe and cross-border trade there to be as frictionless as possible. That means I do not want Britain to be part of the Common Commercial Policy and I do not want us to be bound by the Common External Tariff. These are the elements of the Customs Union that prevent us from striking our own comprehensive trade agreements with other countries. But I do want us to have a customs agreement with the EU. Whether that means we must reach a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the Customs Union in some way, or remain a signatory to some elements of it, I hold no preconceived position. I have an open mind on how we do it. It is not the means that matter, but the ends.


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... Instead, I want us to have reached an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year Article 50 process has concluded. From that point onwards, we believe a phased process of implementation, in which both Britain and the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us will be in our mutual self-interest.


Britain wants to remain a good friend and neighbour to Europe. Yet I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend. Britain would not – indeed we could not – accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise – while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached – I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.

Spanish journalist asks if she would rule out any financial contribution to the EU in any free trade deal, and if the UK is threatening to become a tax haven if it doesn't get a good deal.

May says the UK is open to making contributions to costs of a free trade deal. Insists she isn't threatening the EU. Now questions have ended.

May now being pressed on whether she changed her mind about the single market or not.

May: Everybody knows I campaigned on the remain side in the referendum...economic situation has been more positive than what we predicted.

Would May give EU citizens preferential treatment in the new migration system?

May: I have set out clearly we want to control our immigration to the UK from the EU...but we do recognise the importance of welcoming people to the UK. We want to welcome the brightest and the best.

So that's not a no, but it's not a yes either.

May asked about comments made during the campaign (she was a Remainer) in which she said leaving the single market would make the country worse off.

May: Economic results since the referendum a lot more positive than people expected...This is about a confident future, a trading nation bringing prosperity to the UK.

Theresa May concludes her speech. On to questions...

Theresa May
British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her keynote speech on Brexit at Lancaster House in London Kirsty Wigglesworth/Getty Images

May: We'll get on with Brexit and building a global, fairer Britain too.

A largely conciliatory speech, but May issues her warning - she is willing to walk away from a bad deal and Britain go it alone if necessary. Britain would have to change its economic model, she says, meaning pivot away from European trade. But that would be better than signing up to a bad deal.

May: A punitive deal for Britain would be calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe and would not be the act of a friend.

May: No deal for Britain would be better than a bad deal for Britain.

May: Cooperation between Britain and the EU is needed not just when it comes to trade but security too.

Mentions that UK and France and nuclear powers with permanent seats on the UN Security Council.

May calls the negotiation outlines in her speech the "economically rational" thing to do.

May: We do not want to undermine the single market and we do not want to undermine the EU. We want the EU to be a success and we want the remaining EU states to prosper.

May reiterates that there will not be a blow-by-blow running commentary on the Brexit negotiations because to do so would not be in the national interest.

May: Every stray word and hyped up media report will make it harder for us to get the right deal for Britain.

May: We believe in a phased period of implementation of the new arrangements with the EU.

A big theme of May's speech is the continuation of a close relationship with Europe in all areas, be it science or security or trade. This will be a "constructive partnership", she insists.

May: It is in no-one's interests for there to be a cliff edge as we transition to a new relationship.

GBP:USD movements as Theresa May is speaking...


May: I want cross-border trade to be as frictionless as possible.

May: We do not seek membership of the single market but the greatest possible access to it.

May confirms once and for all — Brexit cannot mean membership of the single market.

"It would to all intents and purposes mean not leaving the EU at all."

May: Britain will be "one of the firmest advocates of free trade in the world".

Seeking an ambitious free trade deal with the EU to give British companies the maximum freedom in the market.

May: When the numbers get too high, public support for the immigration system falters.

May: Openness to international talent must remain one of this country's most distinctive assets. But that process must be managed properly.

May: Maintaining the common travel area between the UK and Ireland will be a priority.

May: The final Brexit deal with the EU will be put to parliament.

May: We will not have truly left the EU if we are not in control of our own laws.

May: We will convert existing EU law into British law to provide certainty. It will then be for parliament to debate those laws.

May: The first objective is crucial - we will provide certainty whenever we can.

May: We have 12 objectives for a new and constructive partnership with the EU.

May: We are leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe.We are seeking a new and equal partnership.

May: We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies, and close friends [with the EU].

Chancellor Philip Hammond is speaking in parliament at the same time as May - and appears to have said explicitly that the UK is leaving the single market.

May: Brexit decision not always well understood by our friends and allies.

Says she does not want this to leave to a "great unravelling of the EU".

May: I want Britain to be a great global trading nation that is respected around the world and strong, confident, and united at home.

May: I want this UK to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, united, and more outward-looking than before...I want us to be a truly global Britain.

The British voted to leave "with their eyes open", says May, and they want a brighter, better future for their children.

She's up - the speech begins.

Much has been made about May's speech confirming Britain's departure from the single market as well as the wider EU. But she has little choice. Staying in the single market would mean keeping the principle of free movement of labour, one of its pillars. And the primary issue among leave voters was immigration — i.e. there is too much of it from Europe because EU citizens can travel and work here freely.

Moreover, the leave campaign mantra of "taking back control" was also about sovereignty, and restoring the supremacy of British courts. Membership of the single market means adhering to rules enforced by the EU, something likely to be intolerable to most if not all leave voters. Brexit has always, in reality, meant renouncing membership of the single market.

Though "membership of" and "access to" are different things... and that will be an important distinction in the future.

Douglas Carswell, Ukip's only MP and a prominent campaigner to leave the EU, wants three key things: for the UK to be free to strike trade deals with the rest of the world; that Britain is no longer subject to the jurisdiction of any European court or legislature; and a sensible system of immigration to control it, but also allow those with the skills we need to enter. All of those things, he says, mean leaving the single market and customs union.

The pound has recovered its early losses as Theresa May's speech was trailed in the media, despite a sharp rise in UK inflation.

From IBT columnist James Bloodworth, who calls Brexit a "fake revolt".

The unions also have a warning for May. TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said:

Signs that the UK will leave the single market are reducing confidence in the British economy and the falling pound looks likely to keep pushing up prices on everyday goods this year.

The prime minister's plan for Brexit today must make sure that wages keep rising, as well as protecting jobs and rights, so that working people don't pay the price for the decision to leave the EU.

The reality is setting in that the UK will be pursuing a hard Brexit. High-profile Remainers are apoplectic.

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:

You can call this Brexit clean, red, white and blue, or whatever you want. But this doesn't disguise the fact that it will be a destructive, hard Brexit, and the consequences will be felt by millions of people through higher prices, greater instability, and rising fuel costs.

The Green Party's co-leader, Caroline Lucas, said:

The prime minister's plan- to yank us out of the single market while attempting to negotiate bilateral trade deals- is a reckless gamble [...] Theresa may is willing to sacrifice our economy at the altar of ending free movement rather than making sure the benefits are shared more fairly - we believe that is utterly misguided.

The devil will be in the detail of today's speech, but the early signs are of a prime minister willing to throw this country off the Brexit cliff edge to appease some of the more extreme Brexiteers in her party while the rest of us suffer the consequences.

Theresa May will say in a major speech unveiling her 12 negotiating objectives for Brexit that there will be no deal to leave the country "half in, half out" of the EU, suggesting she will push for a clean break from the bloc.

The prime minister will deliver the speech at 11:45am from Lancaster House in London. "We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends," she is expected to say, according to extracts of her speech released in advance.

"We want to buy your goods, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship."

She will add: "We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU.

"Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave."

The pound slumped to a three-month low against the US dollar as her speech was trailed in the media, appearing to confirm reports from the weekend that May is preparing for a "hard Brexit".