Theresa May vows to keep UK 'strong and united' after Brexit

After Salisbury the lost art of diplomacy

Diplomacy After Salisbury the lost art of diplomacy

It was on March 29, 2017 that the May government set in motion the two-year exitprocess under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by sending a letter to Brussels about the UK's decision to leave the European Union after the 2016 referendum resulted in a 52%-48% leave vote.

Today (March 29, 2018), halfway through the Article 50 process, the United Kingdom is still on course to leave the European Union on March 29 2019 (even the precise time of the UK's departure - 23.00 United Kingdom time on that day - has been specified).

The deal eases concerns about a hard Brexit but must still be approved by parliament in a vote expected later this year.

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused the government of being in "chaos" over Brexit, following a series of defeats in the House of Lords on its flagship EU Withdrawal Bill.

Meanwhile, speaking to the Independent, ex-PM Tony Blair has urged MPs to vote "according to what they genuinely believe", even if it means defying their party.

Speaking ahead of her trip, she vowed to regain control of "our laws, our borders and our money" and that the UK will "thrive as a strong and united country that works for everyone, no matter whether you voted Leave or Remain".

After starting her four-nation tour at a textile factory in Ayrshire, the PM said: "Let's be clear, there is no power-grab; we are not taking back any of the powers that are now devolved to the Scottish Government, indeed the Scottish Government will be receiving more powers as a result of us leaving the European Union".

Beginning her day in Scotland, May visited textile workers at a factory in Ayrshire, before travelling to Newcastle to meet a local parent and toddler group.

Each of the devolved nations will see an increase in their decision-making powers.

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in a single day.

And Theresa May's message is suitably upbeat. "I am determined that as we leave the EU, and in the years ahead, we will strengthen the bonds that unite us, because ours is the world's most successful union", she said in a statement.

The prime minister, speaking on a whistle-stop tour of the UK's constituent nations to mark a year until Britain formally leaves the European Union, evaded the question.

Mrs May also set out a vision of economic prosperity at home, and influence overseas, trading freely with friends and partners across Europe and beyond.

And she restated her rejection of EU proposals which would effectively create an administrative border down the Irish Sea by keeping Northern Ireland in the Customs Union.

'That means ensuring that no new barriers are created within our common domestic market and that the United Kingdom is able to meet its global obligations in the future'.

"There is still a real chance that we should be able to choose, if that's what we want, a different path and not go down the Brexit route", she added.

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