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Reaction to May's speech on Brexit

Reuters

(Reuters) - Following are reactions to British prime minister Theresa May's speech on Friday setting out her priorities for Brexit ahead of negotiations this year on a new relationship with the European Union.


MICHEL BARNIER, CHIEF EU NEGOTIATOR FOR BREXIT

"I welcome PM @theresa_may speech. Clarity about #UK leaving Single Market and Customs Union & recognition of trade-offs will inform #EUCO guidelines re: future (free trade agreement)."


CAROLYN FAIRBURN, DIRECTOR-GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY

"More is needed to lift the fog of uncertainty and we welcome the PM’s call to ‘get on with it’. This is all about delivery.

"The Prime Minister’s commitment to agreeing a transition period by the end of March is vital because firms are making decisions on investment today."


NICOLA STURGEON, LEADER, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY

"The EU has already rejected the prime minister's wish-list approach but even if she can somehow persuade them to adopt everything in this speech we will still get a worse deal than we have today. She identified some of the contradictions in her government's position, but did little to resolve them.


MANFRED WEBER, GERMAN LEADER OF CENTRE-RIGHT COALITION IN EU PARLIAMENT

"After what I have heard today I am even more concerned. I don't see how we could reach an agreement on #Brexit if the UK government continues to bury its head in the sand like this."


CATHERINE MCGUINNESS, POLICY CHAIR, CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION

"We welcome this serious speech by the Prime Minister which is a step towards an ambitious free-trade agreement.

"The UK shares the same regulatory starting point as the EU – an advantage that no other potential trading partner has.

"And so the prime minister is right: the UK should look to secure a bespoke deal with the EU. An off-the-shelf model would do a disservice to the deep level of integration the UK and EU currently share."


ARLENE FOSTER, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY (May's parliamentary allies)

"The Prime Minister has set forward the basis upon which it would be possible to move forward."

"I welcome the Prime Minister’s clear commitment that she will not countenance any new border being created in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

"Securing a sensible outcome for everyone will require the EU27 to consider innovative solutions rather than rule out any proposal which has not been conceived in Brussels.


MARY LOU MCDONALD, LEADER IRISH NATIONALIST PARTY SINN FEIN

"Twenty one months on from the disastrous Brexit referendum, we have no more than empty rhetoric and contradictory positions from the British Prime Minster.

"Prime Minister May discarded the agreement she made in December and retreated to proposals from last year ... These proposals lack any credibility and have been dismissed by the EU. 

"The clock is ticking on the negotiations and the position outlined by the British Prime Minister is a step backwards."


NIGEL FARAGE, LEADING CAMPAIGNER FOR BREXIT

"May effectively rules out 'No Deal.' A big mistake."


NEIL CARBERRY, CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY

"Excellent news if UK can stay in key agencies like EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) - glad PM has focused on them.


STEPHEN MARTIN, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS

"It is important that she explicitly referenced the need for binding commitments in areas such as state aid and competition policy, which the IoD has long called for. Her acknowledgment of the need for new labour mobility arrangements will also strike a positive chord with businesses.

"On regulation, we are glad to see her refer to the importance of new cooperation mechanisms that will underpin the trust in each other's regulatory frameworks.

"It is important to stress that if the UK is doubling down on its unprecedented customs partnership model, HMRC (tax authorities) have said it will take five years minimum to implement. That means businesses will need longer to adjust to new settings.


MIKE THOMPSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ASSOCIATION OF THE BRITISH PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY

"Every month, 45 million packs of medicines move from the UK to the EU – and 37 million come the other way. That is why the prime minister's commitment to seek cooperation on medicines regulation would be the best outcome for patients, not just in the UK but across Europe.

"It's now critical that both sides prioritise patient safety in phase two of the negotiations. Delivering close cooperation on the regulation of medicines is only one part of the challenge. Making sure the supply of medicines is uninterrupted is essential to ensure patients in the UK and EU can get the medicines they need from day one of Brexit."


TIM ALDERSLADE, CEO OF AIRLINES UK, TRADE BODY FOR BRITISH-BASED AIRLINES

"Airlines are clear in their view that it is vital for the UK to continue membership of the EASA, with all EASA rules and regulations applied to UK operators and companies based here, and we’re pleased that the PM has formally put this on the table ahead of the negotiation."


DAVID LAMB, HEAD OF DEALING AT FEXCO CORPORATE PAYMENTS

"Despite the prime minister's best efforts, at times her speech sounded more wishlist than line in the sand.

"(...) of greatest concern for the markets was the prime minister's acknowledgment - for the first time - that leaving the single market will result in a reduction of British businesses' access to EU markets.

"For all the optimistic talk of new beginnings, this stark reminder of the potential economic cost of Brexit sent a shiver down the spine of poundwatchers, triggering a further fall in sterling."


MILES CELIC, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, THECITYUK FINANCIAL SERVICES LOBBY GROUP

"We fully support the commitment to prevent any bonfire of standards - the UK's global success as a financial centre has been built through world leading regulators and supervisors, not through a race to the bottom."

"We cannot allow political point-scoring, or unnecessary barriers, to take wealth and prosperity out of the pockets of UK and EU citizens."






(Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Stephen Addison)

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