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May keen to hear ‘differing views’ on Brexit to get best deal, PM’s spokeswoman says

UK cannot revoke EU divorce process once triggered — Attorney General

Gulf News

London: UK Prime Minister Theresa May is keen to listen to “differing views” among her team of top ministers to make sure Britain is fully prepared for its negotiation to leave the European Union, her spokeswoman said on Monday.

May, appointed prime minister shortly after Britain voted to leave the bloc, has called on her cabinet, which is split between those who campaigned to remain in the EU and those who wanted to leave, to get ready for the negotiations before she triggers the formal divorce procedure by the end of March.

Media reports say there are sharp disagreements between some, with the Telegraph newspaper reporting “claims” that finance minister Philip Hammond could resign over his support for a “soft Brexit” of retaining ties with the bloc.

“The prime minister is focused on making sure we prepare for the negotiations and we get the best deal for the United Kingdom,” her spokeswoman told reporters.

“The PM wants to prepare fully for those negotiations. It means hearing the differing views of ministers, departments, stakeholders … ultimately we need to make sure we are working together to ensure that we make a success of Brexit.” She added that May had full confidence in Hammond.

A source in Hammond’s department said reports that the finance minister was close to resigning and was obstructing the Brexit process were “completely untrue”.

May has said she will not offer a running commentary on the Brexit negotiations and her aides suggest her government has yet to come up with firm positions on all issues in the talks.

Investors are concerned that, with three leading Brexit campaigners among her closest advisers, May is taking Britain towards a “hard Brexit”, or a clean break from the EU’s lucrative single market to restore control over immigration.

May’s spokeswoman also said the prime minister respected the independence of the Bank of England after governor Mark Carney hit back at criticism of the bank’s low interest rates.

Britain cannot reverse the decision to leave the European Union once the formal divorce process has begun with the triggering of Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, Attorney General Jeremy Wright told the High Court on Monday.

“We do not argue that an Article 50 notice can be revoked and we would like the court to proceed on the basis a notification is irrevocable,” said Wright, the government’s top lawyer.

Asked from the bench if that meant there was no such thing as giving conditional notice, Wright said: “We accept that.”