Commenting on the Prime Minister's speech on Brexit, Richard Bonnar, partner and Chair of DLA Piper's Brexit Committee, said:
"There has been constant speculation over the past six months about the form of the UK's post-Brexit relationship with the EU. For the most part, this has been framed in terms of a "hard" Brexit - whereby the UK comes out of the EU single market for goods and services altogether, but seeks a free trade agreement with the EU for future dealings - and a "soft" Brexit, which sees the UK retaining some form of tariff-free access to the single market.
"Theresa May's speech today could not have been clearer: There will be no partial membership for the EU, half in and half-out. Brexit is going to be hard. This will come as unwelcome news to those who have been pushing for a softer exit, in line with the Norway model, or with post-Brexit arrangements decided on a sector by sector basis.
"Whether this is just tough talk remains to be seen. However, Theresa May's speech does provide a degree of clarity for the many businesses that have been playing a waiting game since the referendum result. Those that rely on passporting rights, for example, will now need to decide whether Theresa May's promise of a stronger and more global Britain is more valuable to them than the loss of a foot-hold in the EU, although the Prime Minister hinted that any future free trade agreement might incorporate elements of the current single market when it comes to financial services. Businesses should be relieved that Theresa May is promising a phased process of implementation, which will assuage the concerns of some who feared a cliff edge at the end of the two year exit negotiation.
"The Prime Minister's speech is likely to lead to more focus on the various legal cases currently underway or in the pipeline, which seek to challenge the mechanics or effect of Brexit - in particular the question of whether the UK's Article 50 exit notice, once given, can be revoked."