British PM May aims for national unity, one year from Brexit

British PM May aims for national unity, one year from Brexit
Theresa May meets a attendees at a local parent and toddler group in Newcastle, north east England on Thursday.

London - Brexit remains a fractious topic, with former prime minister Tony Blair leading a push for second referendum.



By AFP

Published: Thu 29 Mar 2018, 10:42 PM

Last updated: Fri 30 Mar 2018, 12:44 AM

Prime Minister Theresa May made a plea for national unity over Brexit on Thursday as she toured Britain on the day that a one-year countdown to departure from the European Union begins.
May was visiting Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales during her day-long tour, aiming to shore up support for the government's Brexit strategy.
Brexit remains a fractious topic, with former prime minister Tony Blair leading a push for second referendum.
May kicked off the trip with a visit to a textile factory in Ayrshire, southwest Scotland, before travelling to Newcastle in northeast England to meet a parent and toddler group.
"Brexit provides us with opportunities. I want to see us coming together, the four nations across the United Kingdom," she told the Ayr gathering, insisting that "we will be leaving the European Union on March 29 2019".
May was later to stop for lunch with farmers near Belfast in Northern Ireland before meeting Welsh business owners in Barry, then returning to London in time for tea with a Polish group.
"I am determined that as we leave the EU, and in the years ahead, we will strengthen the bonds that unite us," May said before her visit.
"I have an absolute responsibility to protect the integrity of the United Kingdom as a whole.
In a seismic referendum on June 23, 2016, 52 per cent of voters in the UK opted for Britain to leave the European Union.Most voters in England and Wales backed Brexit, while majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted the UK to stay in the EU.
There have been tensions between London and the devolved governments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast over May's handling of the Brexit negotiations so far.
Scotland and Wales last week backed bills to ensure that powers brought back from Brussels go to their capitals. Another sticking point is the Irish border as Britain leaves the European single market and customs union.
All sides in the Brexit talks want to avoid imposing checks at the frontier with the Republic of Ireland. May has agreed to Brussels' plan to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union if no better solution is found.


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