Theresa May's New Year message: 'This is the year we start to make Brexit happen'

‘When I sit around the negotiating table in Europe this year, it will be with that in mind – the knowledge that I am there to get the right deal – not just for those who voted to Leave – but for every single person in this country’

Theresa May's New Year Message

Theresa May has used her first New Year’s message as Prime Minister to urge the public to unite as she starts to put into action the “momentous decision” to leave the EU in 2017.

Ms May, who will have to navigate through one of the most difficult constitutional changes the country has ever seen in the coming years, used her message for the coming year to appeal to those on both sides of the divisive EU referendum campaign.

In a video message from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said the UK had made a “momentous” decision to leave the EU. Appealing to those who backed Leave, Ms May added: “And if 2016 was the year you voted for that change, this is the year we start to make it happen”.

Theresa May refuses to rule out making payments to the EU after Brexit

Ms May is expected to trigger Article 50, the untested protocol for a member state leaving the EU, before the end of March. Her administration has insisted this timetable is still on track despite a looming verdict in a Supreme Court case, which could force the Prime Minister to seek approval for her plans in the Commons.

Other EU nations have repeatedly said they will not enter into any form of negotiations with Britain until Ms May formally notifies them of Britain’s decision to leave by triggering the Article 50 – a process the Government believes will be concluded within the two-year timeframe permitted by the article.

But in a plea for unity, Ms May continued: “We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren.

“These ambitions unite us, so that we are no longer the 52 per cent who voted Leave and the 48 per cent who voted Remain, but one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future.

“So when I sit around the negotiating table in Europe this year, it will be with that in mind – the knowledge that I am there to get the right deal – not just for those who voted to Leave – but for every single person in this country.

Ms May continued: “Of course, the referendum laid bare some further divisions in our country. Between those who are prospering and those who are not… this is the year we need to pull down these barriers that hold people back.”

Ending her New Year’s message with a tribute to the Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by an extreme rightwing terrorist one week before the referendum, the Prime Minister continued: “As the fantastic MP Jo Cox, who was so tragically taken from us last year, put it: ‘We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.

“We have a golden opportunity to demonstrate that – to bring this country together as never before, so that whoever you are, wherever you live, our politics, economy and society work for you, not just a privileged few.

“So as we look ahead to a year of opportunity and unity, let me wish you and your family a peaceful, prosperous and happy New Year.”

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