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May rejects talk of ‘hard Brexit’, says UK’s options not binary

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday it was not accurate to suggest that Britain was headed for a “hard Brexit” because it does not face a binary choice between curbing immigration and getting a good trade deal with the EU.

Earlier this month sterling plunged versus the dollar as financial markets viewed a keynote speech by May on Britain’s EU exit as signalling that she was prioritising immigration control over economic concerns – the so-called “hard Brexit” scenario.

During a question and answer session in parliament on May’s meeting with EU leaders last week, opposition Labour lawmaker Andy Burnham said May had been “talking up” a hard Brexit.

May replied: “He talks about the hard Brexit that the government is going to take this country into. There is no suggestion of that whatsoever.

“(He) seems to think that all of these matters are binary decisions between either you are able to control immigration or you have some sort of decent trade arrangements, that is not the case.

“We are going to be ambitious for what we obtain for the United Kingdom and that means a good trade deal as well as control of immigration,” she told parliament.

Asked by another lawmaker about a report in the Sunday Times newspaper that the government was considering halving the headline rate of corporation tax if the EU refuses to agree a post-Brexit free trade deal, May told him he “shouldn’t believe everything he reads in newspapers”.

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