Theresa May aims for 'red, white and blue Brexit'


Theresa May has tried to quell tensions in Government over whether the UK negotiates a hard or soft Brexit, by insisting she wants a "red, white and blue Brexit".

Speaking during a two day visit to Bahrain, the Prime Minister said that getting a good deal which left Britain operating within a single European market was the key thing, rather than being hung up on labels.

"These terms that have been identified: hard Brexit, soft Brexit, black Brexit, white Brexit, grey Brexit. Actually, I think what we should be looking for is a red, white and blue Brexit. That is the right deal for the United Kingdom.

"What is going to be the relationship for the UK with the European Union once we have left the European Union? That's what we are about and that's what we will be working on.

"When people voted on June 23 they voted for us to take control of our borders, they voted for us take control of our laws, and take control of our money, and how we spend our money. We want to get the best possible deal in trade," she told reporters.

In a round of TV interviews aboard the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Ocean, Mrs May told Sky News: "We also want to get the best possible trade deal for trading with, and operating within, a single European market. But I'm ambitious as to what we can achieve in that trade deal. I'm ambitious for that trade deal because I think it's important for Europe as well as being important for the UK."

Mrs May has in the past drawn ridicule from political opponents over her "Brexit means Brexit" slogan which critics have branded meaningless.

With the Supreme Court deciding on whether Parliament will have the whip-hand on triggering Article 50 which formally launches divorce proceedings from the EU, Mrs May pointedly referred to the will of the British people being expressed in the referendum.

The PM told the BBC: "We wait to hear what the Supreme Court judgment is going to be. But I'm clear that what the Government will be delivering, and what Parliament will be delivering, is on the will of the British people.

"Parliament gave the vote to people in the referendum on the 23rd of June, overwhelmingly Parliament voted for the British people to make their choice. They have done that. They have said we want to leave the European Union, the Government will deliver on the vote of the British people."

Asked if she was prepared to give Parliament more details of the Government's negotiating stance as Labour launches a Commons push on the issue, Mrs May said: "I have always said to Parliament, that Parliament would have many opportunities to have their say on these issues. But that also, when it is possible for me to set out more detail then I will do so. That's why I have already said we will be triggering Article 50 by the end of March.

"I'm going to keep some cards close to my chest, I'm sure everybody would realise that in a negotiation you don't give everything away. It's important that we are able to achieve the right deal for the UK."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "The Prime Minister has surpassed herself with this statement. It's jingoistic claptrap.

"It doesn't matter what colour she tries to paint this, her plans to leave the single market will wreck the economy.

"If this Conservative Government cared about Britain and what makes our country great, they would not be running headlong towards a hard Brexit that will blow a £220 billion black hole in the budget.

"The Union Jack represents an open, tolerant, multicultural Britain, not the narrow-minded vision of Ukip and Farage."

Liberal Democrats also pointed out that red, white and blue were the colours on the flags of seven other EU nations - France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

And wags on Twitter noted that they were also the colours of Norway, whose close relationship with the EU is taken as the best existing example of "soft Brexit", and of Schleswig-Holstein, whose disputed status provoked a notoriously protracted and complex European diplomatic wrangle in the 19th century.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, who is leading Labour's push for Mrs May to give more clarity, said: "There needs to be a degree of certainty. The uncertainty at the moment is affecting businesses, it's affecting politics and so we need the basic direction of travel."

Responding to Mrs May's comments on giving Parliament more detail "when it is possible", Sir Keir told BBC Radio 4's World At One: "If she is true to that, that means that she won't resist the motion tomorrow because a decision has to be made about direction of travel before Article 50 is invoked.

"They can't invoke Article 50 without having a basic plan."

He said he understood there were "a number of Conservative MPs who are considering voting for the motion".