Theresa May is expected to use the most important speech of her premiership to confirm that Britain will be leaving the single market while insisting that it wants to remain “the best friend” to European partners.
In remarks that critics will cite as evidence that the government is pursuing a hard Brexit, the prime minister will set out 12 key priorities for the EU negotiations, with no compromise over the ability to control borders and regain sovereignty.
Speaking to an audience at Lancaster House, Westminster, including ambassadors from across the world, May will stress her ambition to reach out beyond the continent to build new trading relationships in a move that suggests the UK will also leave the customs union.
However, the prime minister is likely to restate an argument that she does not see it as an either/or choice and say that whatever final deal on trade and customs duties is struck, lorries will be able to pass through Dover and other ports unhindered, despite warnings from others on the issue.
“We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU. Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out,” May is expected to say.