Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May sets Britain on a course that will potentially end its access to the lucrative European Union single market. As David Pollard reports, the pound hit a three-month low ahead of her keynote speech, but rebounded strongly during her delivery.
As performances go, this had top billing. A slide in sterling beforehand setting the stage for Theresa May to deliver some of the 'hard Brexit' scenario currency markets had feared ... As she spoke of a free trade deal with Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, SAYING: "It should give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in European markets and let European businesses do the same in Britain. But I want to be clear, what I am proposing can not mean membership of the single market." Though for some cherished parts in the UK economy, there might be exceptions. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, SAYING: "That agreement may take in elements of current single market arrangements in certain areas. On the export of cars and lorries, for example, or the freedom to provide financial services across national borders." A surprise comeback by sterling almost stole the show. A two percent surge recouping previous dollar losses - on a promise a final exit deal would get a vote in parliament. May also setting the end of a two-year negotiating period as a deadline to seal that deal. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "Inevitably there is considerable political judgment about what may or not be a smart idea. But the hard reality is that we don't wholly understand what the European framework will be. We also don't understand what arrangements the UK will have. What that does mean is that there will be reduced confidence, and reduced confidence will feed through in time to reduced investment and also, I suspect, reduced consumption." But those who want a brighter spotlight on UK strategy may be disappointed. The prime minister once again warning: there will be no blow-by-blow account of Britain's Brexit plans, now or ahead. For markets and for the economy, a nervous wait until the curtain goes up on a new accord with Europe.