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PM's Brexit offer needs 'giant leaps of faith'

Theresa May has landed her difficult third Brexit speech. After weeks of delicate negotiation, she has managed to pull off what many thought would be impossible: set out her vision for a future trading relationship with Brussels that hasn't torn her party in two.
Forty-eight hours after she delivered her Road to Brexit Mansion House speech neither her Brexiteers nor her Remainers have broken ranks to protest betrayal. Her softest of hard Brexits has found safe passage - in London at least.But when it comes to Brussels, her opening offer for a trade deal is far more problematic. On the one hand the Prime Minister says she's ready to face the "hard facts" that her Brexit red lines means the UK will have less access to EU markets. But when it comes to the substance of a future trade deal, she is asking for an awful lot of Brussels.Outside the single market and the customs union, Mrs May nevertheless wants a trade deal that is brimming with cherries.:: PM defends 'cherry-picking' a Brexit deal in Mansion House speechShe wants to be outside the customs union in order to strike free trade deals around the world, while also wanting a "customs partnership" to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and keep goods flowing freely.
PM's Brexit offer needs 'giant leaps of faith'

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She's prepared to lose passporting rights for financial services firms trading with the single market. But she also wants the EU to give her a deal on the City's access to the EU if she in return maintains the same level of regulations as the continent.And when it comes to cars and manufacturers, the Prime Minister will maintain regulatory alignment with the EU to allow smooth trade. But when it comes to fishing and farming, Mrs May wants to quit the common markets and go it alone, starting off with a demand that UK fisherman get a fairer allocation of coastal waters.The Prime Minister argued on Sunday that "cherry picking" was merely part-and-parcel of any trade deal. "If you look at the European Union today, it has different trade agreements with countries around the world," Mrs May told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.
"Each of those are different. And so if you say that looking what suits your particular economics and putting that into a trade agreement is cherry picking. Then they're cherry picking in every trade agreement they put forward."Simon Coveney, Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister, described her ideal deal as some kind of "hybrid model between the kind of free trade agreement that the EU has with Canada today and the kind of market access that Norway has into the single market today".
PM's Brexit offer needs 'giant leaps of faith'

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Of course, Canada's trade deal doesn't include an extra deal for financial services or access to the customs union. And as for Norway, it pays the EU for access to the single market while also accepting EU rules and free movement of people across its borders.Boiling it down, Mrs May doesn't seem to have moved that much beyond her ideal Brexit destination as being a place where Britain can still maintain much of the benefits of membership of the European Union without having the many of the obligations (unless she chooses to opt in of course).As the former trade and business minister Lord Mandelson put it this weekend: "It involves two giant leaps of faith. First of all that the European Union is going to accept a cherry picked arrangement where we pick what we want and leave the rest, possible but unlikely."Secondly that while we align our standards and goods in areas of trade we want and we reserve the right to subsequently diverge and go off in any direction we choose. I don't think that is going to be accepted by the EU."
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For Brussels' part, what she is seeking crosses their red lines. There will be concern in Brussels that her cherry picking threatens to unpick the legal and regulatory integrity of the single market - and it is something that officials have said all along that they cannot countenance in the same way she has always been clear that leaving the EU means quitting the single market and taking back control of Britain's "money, borders and laws".Mrs May has at least been honest in what she is looking for - and admitted that this is a negotiation that will require compromise on both sides. The Prime Minister has skilfully kept her domestic audience on side with her difficult third speech. But don't underestimate the huge gap between what she is asking for and what the EU are prepared to give: Brussels is likely to give her a far sympathetic hearing when the horse trading begins.
news.sky.com
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