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May vows to keep UK united after Brexit


IANS London
British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to keep the UK "strong and united" after Brexit as she marks a year to go until Britain's departure from the European Union.
On March 29, 2019, the UK will formally leave the EU. May is set to visit England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, appealing to those for and against Brexit, the BBC reported on Thursday.
Only a few months are left to strike a deal on the future UK-EU relationship. Britain is due to enter a 21-month transition period during which much of the current arrangements will continue, before the final permanent post-membership relationship kicks in.
But first, May has to agree a deal in Parliament, with a vote expected in October.
With the Irish border remaining a sticking point, May said she will promise to ensure "no new barriers are created within our common domestic market".
Since formal negotiations began between the two sides last June, an agreement was struck on a Brexit "divorce bill" -- but the crucial issue of how they will trade together was yet to be settled.
On Wednesday, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry faced criticism from within her own party for saying Labour MPs would probably approve the government's "blah, blah, blah" deal that would pass Labour's six tests -- which included maintaining the benefits of the single market and customs union.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell defended Thornberry's comments, emphasising her "sarcasm" in response to a journalist's question.
On Thursday, May will visit a textile factory in Ayrshire, a parent and toddler group in Newcastle, have lunch with farmers near Belfast before meeting businessmen in Barry, south Wales.
Speaking ahead of her trip, she vowed to regain control of "our laws, our borders and our money" and that the UK will "thrive as a strong and united country that works for everyone, no matter whether you voted Leave or Remain".
May has been accused of a power grab by the Scottish and Welsh governments over plans to repatriate some powers from Brussels to Westminster rather than to the devolved administrations.
She insisted each of the devolved administrations would see "an increase in their decision-making powers" and that her government remained "absolutely committed" to the devolution settlements.

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First Published: Mar 29 2018 | 2:16 PM IST

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