Brexit Latest: Exchange markets react to May's 'hard facts'

Theresa May called for compromise in her big Brexit speech
Theresa May's speech hit back at critics in Brussels
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Prime Minister lays out the "hard facts" on Brexit, hits back at critics in Brussels and tells others that there is a need for compromise. Max Liu reports on the betting after Theresa May's big Brexit speech.

"May is [1.44] to leave office before Brexit is complete."

In her arguably the most significant speech of her premiership, Theresa May has tried to give voters some clarity on the UK's plans for leaving the European Union.

But bettors still think Brexit is going to take longer than expected and are backing May to leave office before the process is complete.

May set out what she calls "hard facts" on Brexit and said the UK 'must unite'. The Prime Minister acknowledged that neither the UK nor the EU would get everything they want from the negotiations but added "let's get on with it".

Exchange layers make the UK [2.38] to still be in the EU beyond the 29 March 2019 deadline agreed at the start of the process.

The task facing May with this speech, which was delivered at London's Mansion House, looked almost impossible. She had to reassure Britons, who voted both Leave and Remain, about her plans for Brexit and, at the same time, needed to reaffirm the UK's commitment to forging a partnership with the EU. She also had to make clear that the UK's negotiators would not be intimidated by leaders in Brussels.

May tries to provide clarity on Brexit

There's growing unease in Britain about what Brexit will mean and May wanted to address some key issues, such as trade and the Irish border.

She was clear that the UK is leaving the single market. She conceded that the UK and EU will have less access to each other's markets after Brexit. She set out five principles which she wants to govern trade between Britain and Europe in the future.

The UK doesn't want, May said, to implement a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, she didn't rule it out, saying: "It is not good enough to say 'we won't introduce a hard border; if the EU forces Ireland to do it, that's down to them'. We chose to leave; we have a responsibility to help find a solution. But we can't do it on our own. It is for all of us to work together."

UK not cherrypicking, says May

May rejected the claim made by some in Brussels that the UK is trying to cherrypick in its trade negotiations: "The fact is that every free trade agreement has varying market access depending on the respective interests of the countries involved. If this is cherry-picking, then every trade arrangement is cherry-picking."

This tough tone will have pleased the Brexiteers in the Conservative Party. In fact, arch-Leave supporter Iain Duncan Smith has already welcomed the speech, calling on the EU chiefs to "stop playing games and stop the megaphone and start negotiating as equal partners".

Nicky Morgan, a Tory Remainer who has been critical of May, also praised the speech for its tone of "realism and compromise".

Latest odds on May and Brexit

May will also hope her speech has helped to shore up her premiership, especially as Labour appeared to steal a march this week when Jeremy Corbyn committed to keeping Britain in the Customs Union.

It will be interesting to see how commentators and bettors react in the coming days. At the moment, May is [1.44] to leave office before Brexit is complete.

For those wanting a second referendum on Brexit, the odds aren't encouraging, at least not in the short to medium term. A referendum this year is [10.0], while you can get [3.1] on one before 2020.

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