Theresa May: ‘There’s no better deal than remaining in the EU’

Theresa May delivers a speech on Great Britain, Europe and our place in the world. Photograph: Stefa

Theresa May delivers a speech on Great Britain, Europe and our place in the world. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A video of a speech Theresa May delivered just before the EU referendum vote has surfaced online, with Theresa May pointing out Britain will not be offered any deals better than remaining in the EU.

In the video clipped, which was posted by Channel 4 News, Theresa May said that it is 'clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.'

She said: 'I think it's right for us to remain precisely because I believe in Britain's strength, in our economic, diplomatic and military clout, because I am optimistic about our future, because I believe in our ability to lead and not just follow.'

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The then home secretary warned that a deal better than remaining in the European Union was simply not possible.

'The reality is that we do not know on what terms we would have access to the single market. We do know that in a negotiation we would need to make concessions in order to access it, and those concessions could well be about accepting EU regulations, over which we would have no say, making financial contributions, just as we do now, accepting free movement rules, just as we do now, or quite possibly all 3 combined. It is not clear why other EU member states would give Britain a better deal than they themselves enjoy.'

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May noted that the EU is more important to the UK than the UK is to the EU based on exports. She said trading with the EU was vital for the UK, and that we cannot replace it with new markets.

She says: 'In a stand-off between Britain and the EU, 44% of our exports is more important to us than 8% of the EU's exports is to them.

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'It is tempting to look at developing countries' economies, with their high growth rates, and see them as an alternative to trade with Europe. But just look at the reality of our trading relationship with China - with its dumping policies, protective tariffs and industrial-scale industrial espionage. And look at the figures. We export more to Ireland than we do to China, almost twice as much to Belgium as we do to India, and nearly 3 times as much to Sweden as we do to Brazil. It is not realistic to think we could just replace European trade with these new markets.'

Theresa May warned against risking the 'national interest' by changing our alliances with other countries.

'Brexit also risks changing our friendships and alliances from further afield. In particular, as President Obama has said, it risks changing our alliance with the United States. That would not, I believe, be in our national interest.'

May also noted that Britain has led in the EU - and should continue to do so.

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'Britain can and often does lead in Europe: the creation of the single market was driven by Mrs Thatcher, the competitiveness and trade agendas now pursued by the commission were begun at the behest of Britain and Germany, and I can tell you that on matters of counter-terrorism and security, the rest of Europe instinctively looks towards us. But it shouldn't be a notable exception when Britain leads in Europe: it should become the norm.'

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