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A Brexit Backer On EU Negotiations


While he was in London, President Trump stirred things up by weighing in on Brexit and criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for breaking away from the European Union. British sentiment on Brexit continues to be split down the middle. But the deadline for putting it into effect is now only 8 months off. Kate Hoey is a member of the British Parliament. And she joins us from our studios at the BBC in London. Good to talk to you.

KATE HOEY: Very nice to talk to you.

MONTAGNE: Now, you are a rare Labour Party member of Parliament who strongly supported - and you still do - Brexit. Remind us who you were representing and whose interests you were looking to support, and still are, by taking that position.

HOEY: Well, there were a substantial number of - right in the country - Labour supporters and Labour voters. Particularly, the further north you went out of London were very keen to leave. And what we wanted was to really get back to a situation where, as a country, we could make our own laws, not be subject to a court of justice coming from the other EU 27 countries.

MONTAGNE: Well, with the Brexit vote, you got what you wanted, or at least you got what you thought you wanted. Now Prime Minister May - not in your party, by the way. She's a conservative. She's outlined something being called a soft Brexit. Tell us what that is.

HOEY: Well, there's been these two terms - soft Brexit and hard Brexit. And, of course, what some of the more extreme soft Brexit people want is really for us not to leave. And they think that by dripping away slowly at lots of different aspects, we will eventually get to a situation where we have left the EU in name only.

MONTAGNE: Give us a brief example, though, of what - within the Prime Minister May's proposal, what within that would be harmful to Britain?

HOEY: We are going to find it much harder to have independent trade deals. Now we believe as an independent country and the fifth largest economy in the world that we could do those deals much better and much more quickly. The problem is if we have to, with our goods, keep absolutely in line with the European Union, then, in fact, we are still so heavily aligned that it will make it extremely difficult to have our own trade deals, even with the United States.

And indeed, your president made it very clear that he thought that it would be extremely difficult to have a trade deal with the United Kingdom because it was actually still, really, going to be a trade deal with the European Union.

MONTAGNE: The idea is being tied to the EU will subject Britain to their rules and laws in some instances, and that will tie the hands of Britain in dealing with other countries.

HOEY: Yes. Well, one of the things is that the call for this being tied closely through the EU comes from the very big global corporations. It doesn't come from the thousands and thousands of small businesses who never trade with the European Union, but yet, they would still then be tied with all the regulations. And many of those small businesses were looking to the opportunity to leave so that they could get rid of some of the bureaucracy, some of the regulations, some of the ridiculous little things that small businesses have to do.

The global corporations love it all because that means that they don't have the competition, and they can tie everything up in a, you know, a kind of global monopoly. So that's why the big businesses organization in the United Kingdom - they've been very keen to push this, what is called a softer Brexit.

So we would very much like to have the kind of relationship with the rest of the world that most countries outside the European Union have. You know, the idea that, somehow, the rest of the world can manage without being part of a European Union, and yet, somehow the United Kingdom, the fifth biggest economy, is being told that you can't is just nonsense.

MONTAGNE: British MP Kate Hoey, who is also a strong supporter of Brexit. Thank you very much.

HOEY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.