Theresa May defiantly ruled out a second referendum
In a swipe at Europhiles calling for another Brexit vote on membership, Theresa May added: “People in the UK feel very strongly that if they take a decision, governments shouldn’t turn round to them and say, ‘No you’ve got that wrong, have another go, see if you can get it right next time’.”
She declared that Britain will take back control of its foreign policy as soon as we leave the EU. And she confirmed that the European Court of Justice will “no longer have jurisdiction over the UK” once we leave.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of more than 70 countries’ representatives, a defiant Mrs May said the UK would not wait until the end of any implementation period to take back full control over areas like diplomacy, peacekeeping, defence and aid.
She pledged: “We are leaving the European Union. There is no question of a second referendum or going back on that vote and I think that’s important because we gave the decision to the British people and I believe people have a right to believe that their politicians will actually respect their decision and to deliver on that.”
Theresa May spoke of Brexit as a matter of public trust in politicians
People in the UK feel very strongly that if they take a decision, governments shouldn’t turn round to them and say, ‘No you’ve got that wrong, have another go, see if you can get it right next time’.
When a delegate was applauded for suggesting that a second referendum would not be “a matter or national shame but national prudence”, Mrs May took aim at Brussels, saying: “At the time when other countries in the EU had referenda, the results came out against the new constitution and then people were asked to vote again.
“Many of us in the United Kingdom actually said that was not the right approach. People in the UK feel very strongly that if they take a decision that governments shouldn’t turn round to them and say, ‘No you’ve got that wrong, have another go, see if you can get it right next time’.
“An overwhelming majority in the United Kingdom parliament voted to say that the decision about membership of the European Union should be one for the people of the United Kingdom and I think it’s right in terms of the integrity of the relationship between us as politicians and the people of the UK that we abide by that decision and that we deliver on that decision.”
Her Brexit pledge came after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was forced to water down plans to insert a “punishment clause” into any Brexit transition deal after Leavers including Jacob Rees-Mogg said Britain must not “roll over” to Brussels’ demands.
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Angela Merkel was forced into a similar climb-down following a meeting with Mrs May in Berlin on Friday. The German Chancellor insisted she was “more curious” than frustrated at the UK’s position and signalled that Britain would get the bespoke trade deal Mrs May has been calling for.
The Prime Minister, appearing to have strengthened her resolve in the face of criticism that she has “pinkened” her red lines on Brexit, confirmed that Britain will take control of our own borders and laws when we leave – pouring cold water on Remainers’ attempts to keep us closely aligned with the EU.
She said: “Where we are looking to participate in EU agencies, we will respect the role of the ECJ [European Court of Justice] but as a country outside the European Union, we will have our own sovereign legal order so the ECJ will no longer have jurisdiction in the UK.”
Launching a thinly veiled attack on federalist EU zealots, she said “deep-seated ideology” should not be allowed to “jeopardise the security of our citizens”.
May took a swipe at EU federalists like Jean-Claude Juncker
Mrs May stressed there was “no question” of the UK “rowing back on its commitment to European defence and security” but she confirmed that Britain would pull out of the major foreign policy arrangement aligning the UK with the EU as soon as possible after Brexit.
In a move No 10 sources insisted was about regaining sovereignty, she announced we will be leaving the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP), which grew out of the 1991 Maastricht Treaty and is widely viewed by Eurosceptics as a power grab by Brussels.
It resulted in the EU seizing the right to speak at the United Nations on behalf of its 27 member states, rather than the country holding its rotating presidency.
Baroness Ashton, who was nominated by Tony Blair to serve as the EU’s first £270,000-a-year foreign affairs supremo courted controversy after it emerged her office was costing British taxpayers millions.
The system also meant that Britain was forced to take part in a summit in 2003 in Lisbon despite protesting over the attendance of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.
Then prime minister Gordon Brown boycotted the event but the government was obliged to send a representative. Mrs May said at the conference: “We need a partnership that respects both the decision-making autonomy of the European Union and the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
“This is fully achievable. The EU’s common foreign policy is distinct within the EU Treaties and our foreign policies will keep evolving.
“So there is no reason why we should not agree distinct arrangements for our foreign and defence policy cooperation in the time-limited implementation period, as the Commission has proposed.
“This would mean that key aspects of our future partnership in this area would already be effective from 2019. We shouldn’t wait where we don’t need to.”
This comes a day after Theresa May and Angela Merkel held a joint press conference
Describing Britain as “a global nation”, Mrs May reminded the audience of Britain’s unparalleled status as the second largest defence spender in Nato and the only EU member to spend two per cent of our GDP on defence as well as 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on international development.
Overall, the UK spends around 40 per cent of Europe’s total on defence research and development. In a move likely to anger Brussels, she also stressed the importance of the UK’s “special relationship” with the United States, describing the UK as “America’s closest partner”, adding: “We have never defi ned our global outlook primarily through our membership of the European Union or by a collective European foreign policy.”
Aligning Britain with the world’s biggest military power, she committed to “reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership – and the full breadth of all our global alliances – so that we can protect our shared security and project our shared values”.
But she stressed that the UK will continue to work closely with the EU when it was in our “shared interest”.
Mrs May cited three areas with potential for closer cooperation. She said that at a diplomatic level the UK wanted to work closely on agreed sanctions.
Britain would remain “open” to contributing to an EU operation or mission, she said. And UK aid efforts would seek alignment with EU development programmes.
She added that it would be “in our interests to continue working together on developing the capabilities – in defence, cyber and space – to meet future threats”.
Mrs May has proposed a new Treaty to underpin our future internal security relationship with the EU, stressing that it must be respectful of the sovereignty of both the UK and the EU’s legal orders and respect the UK’s “robust” data protection laws.
She added: “We’re ready to start working through this with colleagues in the European Commission now.”
Mrs May will deliver another landmark speech on Brexit on March 1 ahead of a crucial EU Summit in Brussels when Britain is expected to spell out its “end state” vision for a future relationship.