Brexit deal shows UK can leave EU in 'smooth and orderly' way: May


London (AFP)

Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday hailed the deal struck on the first stage of Brexit talks, saying it proved Britain could leave the European Union in a "smooth and orderly way".

She said the agreement reached in Brussels last Friday, on Britain's financial settlement after Brexit, EU expatriate rights and the future of the Irish border, should be welcomed by people who backed and opposed leaving the bloc.

"This is good news for people who voted Leave, who were worried we were so bogged down in tortuous negotiations it was never going to happen," she told MPs in the House of Commons.

"And it is good news for people who voted Remain, who were worried we were going to crash out without a deal.

"We are going to leave but we are going to do so in a smooth and orderly way, securing a new deep and special partnership with our friends while taking back control of our borders, money and laws once again.

"That is my mission. That is this government's mission. And on Friday we took a big step towards achieving it."

Some have viewed the agreement as a move towards a softer break with Brussels, in its guarantees to avoid a return to border checks between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

It holds out the prospect of Britain remaining aligned with some of the rules of the EU's single market and customs union if no new bilateral trade deal is reached.

May said this was a "fall-back option of last resort" and confirmed once again that Britain as a whole would be leaving the EU's single market and the customs union.