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May reasserts UK's role as global player post-Brexit vote
[LONDON] Prime Minister Theresa May will make the case for Britain remaining a powerful player in the world after last month's vote to leave the European Union.
The premier will use her first appearance in parliament since succeeding David Cameron to argue for renewing the Trident nuclear-weapons system after a weekend in which the team overseeing the divorce from the EU began to set out their plans.
"We cannot compromise on our national security, we cannot outsource the grave responsibility we shoulder for keeping our people safe," Ms May will say in the House of Commons on Monday, according to extracts of her speech released by her office.
"We cannot abandon our ultimate safeguard out of misplaced idealism; that would be a reckless gamble, a gamble that would enfeeble our allies and embolden our enemies."
The prime minister will also travel to Wales on Monday to reassert her commitment to involve all nations of the UK in negotiations for leaving the EU after making the same pledge in Scotland on Friday.
Just over three weeks since the Brexit vote, some of its chief advocates - who now find themselves in positions of power - are putting forward their plans for a more outward-looking Britain as a result of the split.
Chief Brexit negotiator David Davis said he is confident the UK can retain access to the European single market while tightening restrictions on migration. Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Brexit is an opportunity for Britain to be "truly global," while Trade Secretary Liam Fox said he has started lining up deals to be put in place once Britain leaves the bloc.
The comments echo claims made by "Leave" advocates during the referendum campaign that Britain could play a more influential role on the global stage outside the EU and maintain trade links while setting its own terms.
The EU "must realise the British public have made it clear where they stand on regaining control of our borders," Mr Davis, who was appointed last week, said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
"At the end of the day the initial anger will be replaced by common interest." That cements a key battle line in the negotiations over Britain's relationship with the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week that the UK should be given "time to thoroughly think" about what kind of relationship it wants with Europe. Nevertheless, she and other European leaders have agreed there can be no access to the single market without the associated freedom of movement.
Mr Johnson - who wrote in the Telegraph that the UK "should be more outward-looking, more engaged, and more active on the world stage than ever before" - was in Brussels on Monday to participate in a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
He may receive a frosty reception, after French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that Mr Johnson "lied a lot to the British people" during the referendum campaign and now "finds himself with his back against the wall."
"We have to give effect to the will of the people and leave the European Union," Mr Johnson told reporters as he arrived.
"That in no sense means we're leaving Europe; we are not in any way going to be abandoning our leading role in European cooperation, participation of all kinds."
While the UK can't make formal trade deals with other countries until it has left the bloc, Mr Fox said he is starting to line them up to be signed once it has. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Fox said he is "scoping about a dozen free-trade deals outside the EU to be ready for when we leave," and that he will fly to the US next week.
Canada's International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland downplayed Mr Fox's claim that her government has begun "very fruitful" negotiations for a bilateral trade deal with the UK Canada's priority is to enact and ratify the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement in 2017 while the UK is still part of the EU, she said in a statement.
Mr Fox said he is preparing deals based on a timeline of Britain triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the year, which would start formal exit negotiations with the EU in time to leave by Jan 1, 2019.
Ms May has previously indicated that Article 50 would probably not be invoked until next year. After meeting with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday, she said she won't start the process until a UK-wide approach to exit negotiations has been established.
Ms Sturgeon said Scotland is "in a very strong position" when asked in a BBC TV interview if it would have a veto over the timing of exit negotiations with Europe. She also said she may call a second referendum on Scottish independence if she's unable to protect Scotland's relationship with the EU within the UK.
Despite the apparent difficulties facing Ms May's government, Britons appear to have high hopes for her leadership. Nearly half of respondents in a poll by ICM for The Sun said she'll deliver a good Brexit deal.
Most respondents in a separate poll by ComRes for the Sunday Mirror and Independent opposed a second referendum on EU membership, and almost half said there's no need for an early general election.
The vote on Trident will give the Conservatives the chance to deepen splits within the opposition Labour Party.
Leader Jeremy Corbyn, currently facing a challenge for his post, will vote against renewal, in line with his longstanding beliefs. Many of his lawmakers will vote in favour, in line with their party's longstanding policy.