Prime minister lays out plans for “smooth and orderly Brexit” in key speech

Prime minister Theresa May has laid out plans for a “smooth and orderly Brexit” in a key speech on Britain’s priorities for exiting the EU.

The much-anticipated speech set out 12 negotiating objectives, and confirmed Britain will leave the EU single market in favour of the “greatest possible access”.

May said it was clear it was impossible to remain in the single market while the government pursued its objectives of controlling immigration and leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

May said Britain wants to trade with the EU “as freely as possible” but will not be “half-in, half-out”.

She added: “We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU”.

May said the country’s strategy was to become “a global Britain”, adding: “It is clear the UK needs to increase its trade significantly with the world’s fastest growing economies”.

On immigration, May said the government would seek to guarantee the rights of European Union citizens living and working in Britain.

She also said the government would not sign up wholesale to the EU’s customs union, as the country wants to be able to draw up its own trade agreements with other countries, but said she could conceive that the UK might want to be an “associate member” to remove as many barriers to EU trade as possible.

Britain will seek to negotiatiate some transitional arrangements to ensure there is a “phased” exit rather than “a disruptive cliff edge”, May said.

Despite outlining a collaborative approach to negotiations with the EU, May warned the UK would not accept a deal at any price, saying: “No deal is better than a bad deal”.

May’s speech comes as Building has begun canvassing industry opinion on what outcomes it needs from Brexit, as part of our Building a Better Brexit campaign.

The first stage of the campaign will inform Lord Stunell’s review into the impact of Brexit on the construction industry, as the Liberal Democrat peer seeks to lead scrutiny of the process on behalf of the sector in the Lords.