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Theresa May to give Brexit insight in major speech tomorrow

Press Trust of India  |  London 

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to give the mostdetailed insight yet into her government's approach to the forthcoming negotiations with Brussels on the UK's exit from the European Union in her much-anticipated speech tomorrow.

The speech at Lancaster House in London tomorrow morning will address senior British officials working on Brexit and representatives and diplomats from around the world.

A representative from the Indian High Commission in Londonis expected to be among the audience of the speech.

The High Commission indicated that either High Commissioner Y K Sinhaor the Deputy High Commissioner Dinesh Patnaik are likely to attend the select gathering.

May is expected to confirm her intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to trigger formal negotiations to leave the 28-nation bloc by the end of March and is also likely to emphasise her government's enthusiasm for pressing ahead with negotiating trade deals with countries like India.

"She will be setting out more on our approach to Brexit, as part of preparing for the negotiations, and in line with our approach of global Britain and continuing to be an outward-looking nation,"a Downing Street spokesperson said.

The Pound Sterling stumbled today to its lowest level in the last three months ahead of the speech. Itfell more than 1 per cent to below USD 1.20, before recovering slightly.

The pound also sank to a two-month low against the Euro, falling to 1.13 Euros before edging up again.

May is widely expected to signal a so-called "hard" Brexit, which would involve Britain's exit from the EU single market and customs union unless the country can regain control over immigration into the UK from EU countries.

Among excerpts of the speech circulating in the UK media, May is expected to say: "One of the reasons that Britain's democracy has been such a success for so many years is that the strength of our identity as one nation, the respect we show to one another as fellow citizens, and the importance we attach to our institutions means that when a vote has been held we all respect the result.

"The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the result. And the country comes together."

Downing Street has described the reports of a "hard" Brexit as "speculation" but a tough approach seems to be echoed across the UK Cabinet with UK Chancellor Philip Hammond warning that the UK could slash business taxes if it is denied access to European markets after Brexit.

In an interview with the 'German Welt am Sonntag'

newspaper, Hammond said: "If we have no access to the European market, if we are closed off, if Britain were to leave the European Union without an agreement on market access, then we could suffer from economic damage at least in the short-term.

"In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model and we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness. And you can be sure we will do whatever we have to do. The British people are not going to lie down and say, too bad, we've been wounded. We will change our model, and we will come back, and we will be competitively engaged."

Tomorrow's speech is expected to clearly set out Britain's negotiating priorities in advance of the Supreme Court ruling on the requirement for Parliamentary approval of Article 50 notification, expected before the end of the month.

Over the weekend, the House of Commons Brexit Select Committee, chaired by Labour MP Hilary Benn, called for the UK government to publish a formal white paper setting out its priorities for when talks begin.

First Published: Mon, January 16 2017. 20:58 IST