PM’s Commons statement on the European Council: 19 December 2016

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Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement on the issues discussed at the December European Council:


Mr Speaker, turning to Brexit, I updated the Council on the UK’s plans for leaving the European Union.

I explained that 2 weeks ago this House voted by a considerable majority – almost 6 to 1 – to support the government by delivering the referendum result and invoking Article 50 before the end of March.

The UK’s Supreme Court is expected to rule next month on whether the government requires parliamentary legislation in order to do this.

I am clear that the government will respect the verdict of our independent judiciary. But I am equally clear that whichever way the judgement goes, we will meet the timetable I have set out.

At the Council, I also reaffirmed my commitment to a smooth and orderly exit – and in this spirit, I made it clear to the other EU leaders that it remains my objective that we give reassurance early on in the negotiations to EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living in EU countries, that their right to stay where they have made their homes will be protected by our withdrawal.

This is an issue which I would like to agree quickly but clearly that requires the agreement of the rest of the EU.

Finally, Mr Speaker, I welcomed the subsequent short discussion between the 27 other leaders on their own plans for the UK’s withdrawal. It is right that the other leaders prepare for the negotiations just as we are making our own preparations. That is in everyone’s best interests.

My aim is to cement the UK as a close partner of the EU once we have left. As I have said before, I want the deal we negotiate to reflect the kind of mature, co-operative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.

A deal that will give our companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the European market – and allow European businesses to do the same here.

A deal that will deliver the deepest possible co-operation to ensure our national security and the security of our allies.

But a deal that will mean when it comes to decisions about our national interest, such as how we control immigration, we can make these decisions for ourselves.

And a deal that will mean our laws are once again made in Britain, not in Brussels.

With a calm and measured approach, this government will honour the will of the British people and secure the right deal that will make a success of Brexit, for the UK, for the EU and for the world.

And I commend this statement to the House.

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