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May vows to deliver EU exit 'in full' despite legal challenge

Sunday, November 6, 2016 - 21:13

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British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday she would deliver a full exit from the European Union, hitting back at critics of her Brexit strategy who have threatened to try to block the process in parliament.

[LONDON] British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday she would deliver a full exit from the European Union, hitting back at critics of her Brexit strategy who have threatened to try to block the process in parliament.

The government's plans to launch a two-year divorce process by the end of March next year were thrown into disarray last week when a court ruled that parliament must be consulted on the decision. Ms May has said she is confident of overturning the ruling.

Nevertheless, the prospect of a parliamentary vote has enraged eurosceptic lawmakers who fear the "hard Brexit" they want will be watered down, and emboldened political opponents who want a less radical split from the bloc.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Ms May signalled she would resist any attempt to force her to change her approach to leaving the EU, a historic break that was approved by 52 per cent of Britons in a referendum in June. "The people made their choice, and did so decisively. It is the responsibility of the government to get on with the job and to carry out their instruction in full," she wrote.

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She said members of parliament who regretted the referendum result "need to accept what the people decided".

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a newspaper interview that he would try to block the commencement of divorce talks with the EU if the government does not agree to his Brexit demands.

Ms May's government, which has given little away about its plans for Britain's future relationship with the EU, has said that having to set out a detailed negotiating strategy to parliament would put it at a disadvantage in the talks. "While others seek to tie our negotiating hands, the Government will get on with the job of delivering the decision of the British people," she said in a separate statement ahead of a trade visit to India on Sunday.

Arch-eurosceptic Nigel Farage, who led the influential UK Independence Party's Brexit campaign, said there was a growing movement to keep Britain within the EU's tariff-free single market - a scenario he called a "half-Brexit" that went against the referendum result. "If the people in this country think that they're going to be cheated, they're going to be betrayed, then we will see political anger the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever witnessed in this country," he told the BBC.

Parliament could in theory block Brexit because most members supported staying in the EU in June's referendum. But many lawmakers have signalled they would be willing to reverse their position to reflect the referendum result. "I think it is highly unlikely that parliament would not, in the end, back a decision to trigger Article 50," Health Minister Jeremy Hunt told the BBC, referring to the EU treaty mechanism for launching divorce proceedings.

REUTERS

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