- May confirms repeal of 1972 European Communities Act
- PM: ‘Let’s show this country we mean business’
- Davis: ‘At moment we leave, Britain must be back in control’
- Telegraph View: The Great Repeal Bill is a bold move by the PM
- What is Article 50 – and what does it mean
Britain must look beyond Europe for economic success, the Prime Minister said on Sunday as she suggested there would be no deal on immigration to keep the UK in the single market.
Setting out her first detailed blueprint for Brexit, Theresa May said that the UK would become “truly global” as she listed eight nations including China, India and Singapore prepared to sign major free trade deals with the UK.
Addressing Conservative conference on Sunday for the first time since becoming Prime Minister, Mrs May made clear that border controls are a red line in the Brexit negotiations, saying that “we are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again”.
Mrs May said that after Brexit the UK will be “a fully-independent, sovereign country” that will no longer be in the “jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”, suggesting that Britain is preparing to leave the single market.
Speaking in Birmingham, she said Tory MPs and peers trying to stop Britain from leaving the EU were “insulting the intelligence of the British people” and “subverting democracy”.
It came after Mrs May said that Britain will leave the EU by at 2019 after she announced that she will trigger Article 50 – the formal process to exit the bloc – by March next year.
Her speech was hailed by the MPs, ministers and party members inside the conference hall.
“Brexit should not just prompt us to think about our new relationship with the European Union,” Mrs May said.
“It should make us think about our role in the wider world. It should make us think of Global Britain, a country with the self-confidence and the freedom to look beyond the continent of Europe and to the economic and diplomatic opportunities of the wider world.
“Because we know that the referendum was not a vote to turn in ourselves, to cut ourselves off from the world. It was a vote for Britain to stand tall, to believe in ourselves, to forge an ambitious and optimistic new role in the world.”
She added: “Countries including Canada, China, India, Mexico, Singapore and South Korea have already told us they would welcome talks on future free trade agreements. And we have already agreed to start scoping discussions on trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand.
“A truly global Britain is possible, and it is in sight. And it should be no surprise that it is. Because we are the fifth biggest economy in the world.”
Calling on people to “ignore the pessimists”, Mrs May made clear that Britain does not need to “punch above our weight” because “our weight is substantial enough already”.
Taking the unusual step for a Tory leader of addressing the annual Conservative conference on its opening day, Mrs May confirmed plans for a Great Repeal Bill to overturn the 1972 Act which took the UK into what was then the European Economic Community.
She rejected the argument Britain must choose between “hard Brexit” – in which the nation regains control over immigration but loses full access to the European single market – and “soft Brexit”, under which access to the single market comes with a requirement to allow free movement of EU workers.
To rapturous applause from her audience, Mrs May said: “I know some people ask about the ‘trade-off’ between controlling immigration and trading with Europe. But that is the wrong way of looking at things.
“We have voted to leave the European Union and become a fully independent, sovereign country.
“We will do what independent, sovereign countries do. We will decide for ourselves how we control immigration. And we will be free to pass our own laws.”
A number of EU leaders have repeatedly said that Britain will get no access to the single market unless it continues to adopt freedom of movement rules, allowing all European citizens to live and work in the UK.
However, speaking after Mrs May, Brexit Secretary David Davis said EU leaders should “think carefully” before erecting barriers to trade.
And Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that “in an age of anxiety and uncertainty it is surely obvious that the values of global Britain are needed more than ever”.
Describing talk of Britain being subjected to trade barriers, such as tariffs, as “bluster”, Mr Davis said: “It certainly won’t be to anyone’s benefit to see an increase in barriers to trade, in either direction.
“So, we want to maintain the freest possible trade between us, without betraying the instruction we have received from the British people to take back control of our own affairs.”
He also said that Mrs May will prove Brexit opponents wrong in the same way as Margaret Thatcher defied her critics to become Britain’s longest serving prime minister.
“Back in 1979, [Mrs Thatcher’s] government had to confront some huge challenges. And today, just as then, we are at a turning point in our nation’s story. Just as then, people have voted to chart a new course for our country – to transform Britain.
“And just as then, there is no shortage of doom-mongers, telling Britain that it can’t be done.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Britain showed them it could be done. We proved them wrong then, and with your help, Britain will prove them wrong again.”
May vows ‘no unnecessary delays’ to Brexit
Prime Minister Theresa May has declared there will be “no unnecessary delays” in kicking off negotiations to leave the European Union, confirming she will begin the two-year process by the end of March 2017.
The announcement, at the Conservative conference in Birmingham, means the UK’s membership of the 28-nation bloc is likely to end by the summer of 2019.
To loud applause from delegates, Mrs May also confirmed plans for a Great Repeal Bill to repeal the 1972 Act of Parliament which took Britain into what was then the EEC, and to transpose EU laws into domestic law.
She insisted she will aim to strike a deal with former EU partners to include “co-operation on law enforcement and counter-terrorism work … free trade in goods and services” and “to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the single market and let European businesses do the same here”.
Rejecting arguments that Britain must make a “trade-off” between controlling immigration and enjoying single market access, she added: “Let me be clear, we are not leaving the EU today to give up control of immigration again and we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. As ever with international talks, it will be a negotiation. It will require some give and take…
“Make no mistake, this is going to be a deal that works for Britain.”
Dismissing the arguments of some opponents of Brexit that the results of withdrawal negotiations under Article 50 of the EU treaties should be put to a second referendum, Mrs May said: “Come on! The referendum vote was clear, it was legitimate, it was the biggest vote for change this country has ever known. Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a success of it.”
Taking the unusual step for a Conservative leader of addressing conference on its opening day, Mrs May told the Birmingham gathering: “There will be no unnecessary delays in invoking Article 50, we will invoke it when we are ready and we will be ready soon.
“We will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year.”
May hits out at those who plot to stop Brexit
Theresa May has told Tory MPs and peers who are trying to stop Britain from leaving the European Union that they are “insulting the intelligence of the British people” and “subverting democracy”.
The Prime Minister accused pro-Europe politicians of “trying to kill Brexit by delaying it” and said that the voters had given their answer on membership of the EU with “emphatic clarity”.
It came as senior Conservative MPs threatened to try to block Brexit by voting against legislation with will formally take Britain out of the European Union.
David Davis hints at hard Brexit
David Davis has insisted Britain must have power to control its own borders and curb immigration in comments which indicate the UK will negotiate a hard Brexit.
The Brexit Secretary also pledged the Government will “bring the numbers down” as the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union and branded Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn out of touch for saying he does not want to cut immigration.
Speaking at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham, Mr Davis also promised the rights of EU citizens living in the UK will be protected as long as those of Britons living in Europe are guaranteed.
He told the conference: “When it comes to the negotiations, we will protect the rights of EU citizens here, so long as Britons in Europe are treated the same way – something I am absolutely sure we will be able to agree.
“To those who peddle hate and division towards people who have made Britain their home, let the message go out from this hall, we say you have no place in our society.
“But the clear message from the referendum is this – we must be able to control immigration.
“Did you hear Mr Corbyn last week, telling us all there’s no need for any limit on numbers? Have you ever heard a political party quite so out of touch with its own voters?
“Let us be clear, we will control our own borders and we will bring the numbers down.”
Scotland can’t escape Brexit
Theresa May has insisted there will be “no opt-out from Brexit” for any of the four nations of the UK.
She said it was for the UK Government alone to carry out the negotiations and made it clear there will be no special deals for different parts of the country.
Mrs May said: “The job of negotiating our new relationship is the job of the Government. Because we voted in the referendum as one United Kingdom, we will negotiate as one United Kingdom, and we will leave the European Union as one United Kingdom.
“There is no opt-out from Brexit. And I will never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious union between the four nations of our United Kingdom.”
Boris Johnson attacks ‘anti-Brexit’ BBC
In his speech to the conference, the Foreign Secretary attacked the BBC for being “anti-Brexit”.
But despite saying that the BBC is “infuriating and shamelessly anti-Brexit”, Mr Johnson added: “I think the Beeb is the single greatest and most effective ambassador for our culture and our values.”
Boris Johnson: Brexit vote was a liberation Play! 02:05
Foreign aid spending will be scrutinised
Every pound of British aid spent abroad will be scrutinised, Priti Patel has announced, as she vowed to “follow the money” to guard against waste and corruption.
Citing Margaret Thatcher’s famous remark that there is “no such thing as public money” the secretary of state for international trade also warned that any aid schemes deemed not to be delivering will be scrapped and those the UK does invest in should be “mutually beneficial”.
In an address to Conservative party conference Ms Patel also sought to justify the amount of money the UK spends on aid, adding that if the country spent less on humantiarian support in Syria the migrant crisis across Europe would be far worse.
She said: “As Margaret Thatcher famously said: there’s no such thing as public money – it is taxpayers’ money. And when we open up budgets and let people see where the money is going, we can help root out corruption and ensure that resources reach the most vulnerable.
“When, last month, I announced new support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria – a fantastic institution that will save millions of lives in the coming years – I linked this funding directly to a new Performance Agreement.
“For the first time this sets out, in black and white, clear requirements for the Global Fund to use our money cost-effectively, transparently, and with a proper focus on results and impact.”
Boris Johnson made a joke at the expense of Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council.
Speaking about Britain leading the way in imposing a bony on ivory, he said that a post-Brexit Britain will “be able to speak up more powerfully with our own distinctive voice leading the world as we now are, in imposing a ban on ivory helping to save the elephant in a way that the disunited EU is unable to do”.
He joked: “In fact we have an absurd situation in which the EU is actually trying to veto the ivory ban in spite of having a president called Donald Tusk.”
Calls for radical shakeup of tax system
Charlie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover and Deal, has called for a radical shakeup of the British tax system.
Speaking at a fringe event he said the government should introduce a “lower, simpler tax system” which would stop big businesses taking advantages of loopholes.
“It doesn’t work when the very rich, the privileged few, and the big businesses, are able to warp the system to their advantage. That is not rule of law and that is not a level playing field,” he said.
“What we ought to be doing is supporting our small businesses and supporting our towns.”
He also suggested a new police which would merge national insurance with income tax.
He said: “The thresholds don’t match up, it doesn’t make any sense, it’s completely daft and absurdly complicated. No one understands it expect people who do spreadsheets.”
Boris Johnson on Britain’s global role
Boris Johnson has extolled the global influence that Britain in his speech to the Conservative conference.
The Foreign Secretary said:
“In an age of anxiety and uncertainty it is surely obvious that the values of global Britain are needed more than ever and though we can never be complacent, and though we can never take our position for granted, Churchill was right when he said that the empires of the future will be empires of the mind and in expressing our values I believe that Global Britain is a soft power superpower and that we can be immensely proud of what we are achieving.”
£750million foreign aid for Afghanistan
Some £750million will be spent on aid for Afghanistan, Priti Patel, the international development secretary has said, in a move that will make Britain “safer”.
“We will commit up to £750 million to Afghanistan between 2017 and 2020, from the aid budget, to promote stability and ensure that their Government continues to function. The money will support health and education – particularly for women and girls. We will help to protect internally displaced people who have fled their homes.
And we will help to clear deadly land mines reducing the human suffering brought about by years of conflict, and letting children go back to school and people get back to their daily lives. Crucially, our support will help build a viable, long-term state in the face of Taliban aggression.”
Minister attacks Russia as it ‘swaggers’ around the world
Russia “swaggers” it’s way around the world and acts in a way would be “unimaginable” to Britain, a minister has said.
Rory Stewart, a Minister in the Department for International Development, accused Russia acting in”very strange” ways and prolonging the war in Syria.
He also suggested that the United Nations needed “serious reform” because the “world is getting out of control.”
Speaking at a fringe event in Birmingham, Mr Stuart said: “The first thing you to understand is the way in which Russia has succeeded within the last three years in completely transforming its global position at a time when you would have though it would be at its weakest.
“The Russian economy is about a third smaller than the British and yet Russia behaves as though it’s much, much bigger than Britain. It swaggers it’s way around all of us.
“The way it’s currently operating in Ukraine, the way its threatening the Baltic states and the way it operates in Syria, would be almost unimaginable for Britain.
“What Russia of course is demonstrating is that they are able to do very, very strange things. Bashar al-Assad was in real problems two years ago, the likelihood is he would have lost Aleppo, most of the South and probably Homs as well, if Russia hadn’t intervened.”
Speaking on the United Nations, he said: “We need to invest in the idea of the United Nations, but my goodness that organisation needs reform.
He added that when “we don’t like” what United Nations is doing we should “challenge it”, but that it is essential because the “world is getting out of control.”
Flick Drummond, the Conservative MP for Portsmouth South, suggested that “diplomacy” was now the only way of solving the Syrian crisis.
She said that afterwards Britain could go to the international courts and try and start prosecuting people, including the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Laura Hughes, Political Correspondent
Tusk welcomes May’s speech
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has offered this reaction to Theresa May’s speech.
Sturgeon hits back at May
Theresa May’s warning to the SNP that Britain “will leave the European Union as one United Kingdom” has not gone down too well with Nicola Sturgeon.
‘We will protect rights of EU citizens here’
While Britain expects to control immigration, David Davis says he wants to offer protections to people already working here who come from the European Union.
“Britain has always been one of the most tolerant and welcoming places on the face of the earth. It must and it will remain so. When it comes to the negotiations, we will protect the rights of EU citizens here, so long as Britons in Europe are treated the same way – something I am absolutely sure we will be able to agree.
And to those who peddle hate and division towards people who have made Britain their home: let the message go out from this hall, we say you have no place in our society.”
Davis praises Theresa May’s leadership
David Davis, the Secretary of State of Exiting the European Union, is now addressing the conference.
He starts by making a comparison between Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher.
“I am proud to count myself part of Theresa May’s team. I don’t know what it is about our great women leaders, but aren’t we lucky that they’re there when we need them? I remember hearing the first one, Margaret Thatcher, talking about the difficulties a woman in politics faces. “To get to the top,” she said, “a woman has to be twice as good as a man. Fortunately,” she said, “This is not difficult.””
‘Let’s show the country we mean business’
“We don’t need to punch above or weight as I hear some people say, because our weight is already substantial,” Theresa May says to huge applause. “Let’s get this plan for Brexit right. Let’s show the country we mean business. And let’s keep working to make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for everyone in this great country.”
And with that, Mrs May’s speech is over.
‘No such thing as hard or soft Brexit’
“There’s no such thing as a choice between a hard Brexit or soft Brexit,” says Theresa May. “Too many people are defining our future relationship with the EU by the past.”
“What we are talking about now is very different. We are going to leave the EU. We are going to be a fully independent nation. We are going to have the freedoms to make our own decisions on a whole host of matters.
“It’s not going to be a Norway model. It’s not going to be a Switzerland model. It’s going to be an agreement between the European Union and an independent United Kingdom.”
She tells people to stop looking at a “trade off” between immigration and trade deals.
“A truly global Britain is in sight.”
‘We will leave as one United Kingdom’
Theresa May has told the SNP to forget any ambitions of trying to keep Scotland in the EU>
“We will leave the European Union as one United Kingdom. There is no opt out from Brexit,” she insists.
Triggering Article 50 is my responsibility
Theresa May says that the responsibility of triggering Article 50 lies with the Government, not Parliament. She says anyone who says otherwise is trying to “subvert” it, and they are “not trying to get Brexit right, they are trying to kill it by delaying it”.
Triggering Article 50
There will be no “sudden and unilateral widthrawal” in order to protect businesses and employers.
Theresa May says she wants to “avoid setting the clock ticking” before plans are put into place for good negotiations. That’s why she won’t trigger Article 50 until next year.
“There is still some uncertainty, but the sky has not fallen in,” she says.
“Having voted to leave I know that the public will want to see on the horizon the point at which we leave the European Union.”
‘No running commentary’
Theresa May reiterates that she will not give a “running commentary” on Brexit negotiations but she promises to “keep the public up to date” when there are announcements.
‘Brexit means Brexit’
Theresa May says the Conservatives are “united” in their aim to deliver Brexit.
“Some democratically elected politicians say we need a second referendum. Others say they don’t like the result and will challenge it in the court. Come on. Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a success of it.”
Theresa May begins her Brexit speech
After a standing ovation, Theresa May says the Tories are going to “show the country that we mean business”.
She reflects on the fact that it was 81 days ago that she stood on Downing Street as Prime Minister for the first time.
She begins setting out her vision for a post-Brexit Britain which will be the best advocate of free trade around the world.
Warming up to Theresa May
We are moments away from hearing Theresa May’s speech on Brexit, but in the meantime we are listening to Lord Heseltine who is the warm-up act on stage here in Birmingham.
‘Imagine Corbyn raising red flag over No 10’
Patrick McLoughlin, the Conservative Party chairman, says the Tories “can’t afford” to let Labour back into power.
“We simply can’t afford, now more than ever, to let the Labour party near a sniff of power. Imagine, for just a second or two, Labour win the 2020 general election: Jeremy Corbyn is in Downing Street raising the red flag. John McDonnell is raising every tax he can find and inventing new ones. Diane Abbott is running the Health Service. Ken Livingstone, twice defeated by our Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London but somehow undeterred perched in the backseat of the Prime Ministerial car. Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson locked in the boot… …well, every cloud has a silver lining. But just because the prospect is appalling doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.”
‘Boundary changes will go ahead’
The Tories will push ahead with the Boundary Review which could see Labour lose many seats, says Patrick McLoughlin, the Conservative Party chairman.
The number of MPs will be reduced from 650 to 600.
“This is all about ensuring everyone’s vote carries equal weight. Because if we don’t, MPs could end up representing constituencies based on data that is over 20 years old. Today there are some constituencies with more than twice as many voters as others. In a modern, democratic system that cannot be right. And of course Labour are playing political games here: opposing changes that Parliament has already voted for. Riddled with infighting and threats of deselection by the hard left, they trying to block these reforms. Now it might not be convenient for some Labour MPs, but it’s not good enough for those people whose vote counts half as much. We said that we would act, and make everyone’s vote count equally. We put it in our manifesto at the last election. And it was enacted in the last Parliament with Nick Clegg’s support. These changes must take place.”
An attack on Labour
Patrick McLoughlin, the Conservative Party chairman, is opening this afternoon’s conference session. He has started with an attack on Labour for re-electing Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
“Right now, politics is amazing. Labour, tearing itself apart. Every former Labour leader saying publicly that Jeremy Corbyn isn’t fit to lead their party. 172 Labour MPs voted no confidence in their leader. One hundred and seventy-two. How on earth are they, with a straight face, going to recommend him to the British people to be Prime Minister?”
Liam Fox will not use Chevening because he does not ‘need another country home”
Liam Fox, the international trade secretary said he has no need to share the foreign secretary’s official house with Boris Johnson and David Davis because he already has a country home in his Somerset constituency.
Dr Fox told a fringe meeting organised by Huffington Post: “I have not been [to Chevening] in this job nor do I have any real intention of doing so.”
One of the main reasons, he said, was that when your constituency is in north Somerset and you have one of the best vistas to look at, you don’t really need another country home.
“My wife is quite keen that we have a little nosy in Chevening but I am much less concerned. Put it this way I did not come back into Government again because of the lure of a country house.”
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the summer said that Mr Johnson, the foreign secretary, could share the house with David Davis, the Exiting the EU secretary, and Dr Fox.
Christopher Hope, Chief Political Correspondent
Industrial policy: ‘Make us an offer we can’t refuse’
Industry secretary Greg Clark has appealed to local government to “make us an offer we can’t refuse” as he called for an end to one size fits all industrial policy.
Mr Clark, who was previously Secretary of State for local government, said there has been “a tendency” for Governments not to differentiate between areas with different strengths and skills.
He said: “It is obvious that the differences, including the strengths of different places, are palpable.
“Still to this day places are different and have different strengths.”
He added that some areas have different skills needs and these should be recognised and policy adapted accordingly.
Asked if he agrees with Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who called for tax breaks and different policy for failing areas, Mr Clark welcomed her remarks.
He said: “One of the approaches I have always taken in the cities brief was that it should not be central government saying how it should be but local places.”
Me Clark called on local councils to “pitch to government to say we think this would be good for our area”.
He added: “You make us an offer that we can’t refuse and I’ll make sure we don’t refuse it,” adding that just because it’s new or untested “should not be a veto for it”.
Asked if the UK’s decision to leave the EU will give the government more tools regarding state aid rules, Mr Clark said: “I hope that one of the freedoms to come from our Brexit will be to determine our own view on that rather than to comply with others.”
Kate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent
Meanwhile in Birmingham…
Michael Deacon has been live tweeting the demonstrations outside of the Tory Conference. Follow him here
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