U.K.'s Theresa May Holds Brexit Brainstorm With Ministers -- 2nd Update
By Nicholas Winning
LONDON -- British Prime Minister Theresa May met with government
ministers for the first time since the summer break on Wednesday to
discuss a strategy for leaving the European Union, amid growing
pressure on the U.K. to explain how it plans to extricate
The view among ministers at the meeting was that the government
should seek a "unique" arrangement with the EU that would allow
"controls on the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe
but also a positive outcome for those who wish to trade goods and
services," a spokeswoman for the prime minister said.
There was also "a strong emphasis on pushing ahead" with Article
50, which is the formal process for leaving the EU, without the
need for a parliamentary vote, said the spokeswoman following the
meeting at the prime minister's official country residence, known
Ms. May, who took up the premiership in July after the U.K.
public's unexpected vote to leave the EU on June 23, has yet to
detail the government's exit negotiation strategy, despite calls
from some European leaders and lawmakers in Britain for greater
She has said she wants to secure the closest possible economic
links with the EU along with more control over migration from the
bloc, though other European leaders have said the U.K. can't be
part of Europe's internal trading market unless it agrees to the
free movement of workers.
The prime minister has said she won't trigger Article 50 before
the end of the year, but hasn't offered any further details on
timing. She reiterated that position earlier on Wednesday in phone
calls with the prime ministers of Finland and Norway saying that
plan aimed "to give the U.K. and the EU time to prepare for
negotiations and to help ensure that the process is as smooth as
possible," her office said in a statement.
Officials with knowledge of the matter have signaled that early
2017 looks likely, although experts say national elections in
France and Germany next year could complicate the talks.
Although the prime minister and many of her ministers were in
favor of staying in the EU, Ms. May opened the cabinet meeting
stressing that the vote to leave was final, despite calls from some
quarters for a second vote once the full details of an EU exit are
"We must continue to be very clear that 'Brexit means Brexit,'
that we're going to make a success of it. That means there's no
second referendum; no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the
back door; that we're actually going to deliver on this," she
Among those attending Wednesday's cabinet meeting were David
Davis, head of the newly formed ministry responsible for Brexit, as
well as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, the minister
responsible for trade, both of whom also are focused on
Brexit-related issues. All three campaigned for the U.K. to leave
Ms. May had asked ministers before the summer break to identify
opportunities and challenges presented by Britain's exit from the
EU for their respective areas.
During the cabinet meeting the ministers reiterated their
commitment to fiscal discipline and determination to boost
productivity, and agreed to make the most of opportunities
presented by Britain's departure from the EU, the prime minister's
office said without providing further details.
The ministers also discussed the government's efforts to tackle
social inequalities and its legislative program, and the political
environment ahead of her Conservative Party's annual autumn
conference in early October. Ms. May has said she wouldn't call
national elections before they are next scheduled in 2020, despite
having a commanding lead in opinion polls over the opposition
Labour Party since taking office. Parliament returns from summer
recess on Monday.
The ministerial gathering took place ahead of the prime
minister's first major international meeting, a summit of the Group
of 20 wealthiest nations in China this weekend.
The G-20 trip comes after the government unexpectedly delayed a
final decision on the building of a new nuclear plant in the U.K.
partly funded by the Chinese, a move that has strained relations
with Beijing. The U.K. said it needed until the fall to review the
GBP18 billion ($23.6 billion) project, funded by the Chinese and
French, which Ms. May's predecessor, David Cameron, had
Write to Nicholas Winning at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 31, 2016 15:05 ET (19:05 GMT)
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