On Tuesday, the UK prime minister will make a speech setting out her Brexit plan, having promised to do so before she triggers the Article 50 process for leaving the EU. The event will take place at Lancaster House in London, in front of an audience of ambassadors, high commissioners and civil servants. She is not expected to go into great detail but already there are strong hints about the sort of deal she would like to negotiate.
Sample the FT’s top stories for a week
You select the topic, we deliver the news.
Enter email addressInvalid email
Does Mrs May want to keep Britain in the EU single market?
She has not said so explicitly. But since October, she has emphasised two “red lines” for negotiations: Britain will not “give up control of [EU] immigration”, and will not “return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”. Since both are conditions of the single market, it looks highly unlikely Britain will seek to remain a member. Many commentators expect Mrs May to confirm this on Tuesday.
What about the customs union?
The customs union is a single trading area where goods from within and outside the EU circulate freely. Again, there has been no explicit statement so far. This question is more complex than that of single market membership — senior members of the government, including the chancellor Philip Hammond, are in favour of staying in the customs union. Downing Street has also suggested it is not a binary in/out question.
When will Article 50 be triggered?
By the end of March, the government insists. There are two obvious challenges. One, the Supreme Court may rule this month that parliament must hold a parliamentary vote before it triggers Article 50. Two, there will be an assembly election in Northern Ireland within weeks, unless a new deputy first minister can be found by 5pm on Monday. The government insists neither will affect its timetable.
When will Britain leave the EU?
Mrs May said in December that she would not look to extend the two-year timetable set down in Article 50. That would mean Britain leaving the EU by the end of March 2019.
Will there be a transition deal?
It depends on how you define a transition deal. Mrs May has said that the government “will discuss whether we need an implementation phase”. This implies a period after leaving the EU to enact rules already agreed upon. That contrasts with another definition — a holding period while a permanent EU-UK trade deal is negotiated.
How does Mrs May want to control immigration?
She has ruled out a points-based visa scheme — as advocated by Vote Leave, the main Brexit campaign group — but not outlined her preferred alternative. One strong possibility is a system of work visas.
Will Britain continue to pay into the EU budget after Brexit?
In December, Mr Hammond said Britain “wouldn’t rule out the possibility of some ongoing contribution in some form if we have an ongoing relationship”.
Will Mrs May give more detail before March?
Aides say Tuesday’s speech is her “plan”. That suggests limited extra detail on the UK’s objectives.