Theresa May plugs her Brexit deal in New Year message
London, Jan 1 : British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday plugged her controversial Brexit deal in a customary New Year message, describing 2019 as a "new chapter" for the UK.
"New Year is a time to look ahead and in 2019, the UK will start a new chapter," she said.
"The Brexit deal I have negotiated delivers on the vote of the British people and in the next few weeks, MPs will have an important decision to make. If Parliament backs a deal, Britain can turn a corner," she noted in her message.
May said the referendum in 2016 had been divisive but 2019 could be the year to put differences aside and move forward together, into a strong new relationship with the UK's European neighbours and "out into the world as a globally trading nation".
In her video message to the nation, the prime minister also stressed on the importance of other issues over and above Britain's impending exit from the European Union (EU) in March 2019.
"Important though Brexit is, it is not the only issue that counts," she said, hailing a new "skills-based immigration system" to replace the EU's freedom of movement rules and creating a level playing field for migrants from around the world.
"We have all we need to thrive and if we come together in 2019, I know we can make a success of what lies ahead and build a country that truly works for every one of us," she concluded.
Brexit was at the heart of the New Year messages from other leading political leaders in the UK, with opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn using the opportunity to condemn Theresa May's deal.
He accused the Conservative Party government of having "plunged the country into crisis over the complete mess they've made of Brexit, trying to drive through a bad deal and letting people down all across the country whether they voted Leave or Remain".
"Labour is ready to deliver a radical alternative to rebuild and transform our country. We'll stand up to the powerful few so that the wealth you create is shared fairly not hoarded by a privileged elite. We'll work to create a society where the talent of everyone is unleashed. That's how we'll unite our country," Corbyn said in his video message.
The Brexit uncertainty found echoes in Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable's speech as well, who said a second referendum was "the only way forward".
"Are the British people, in the final hours, going to be given a chance to reconsider in light of all the facts which have come to the surface in the last two years? The only way forward is to have a People's Vote, with the option to Remain," he said.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her devolved government would work "to protect Scotland's place at the heart of Europe" in 2019.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said her country's reputation for hospitality "has never been more important" and that EU nationals who made homes for themselves in Scotland would always be welcome.
"I want to make that especially clear to the hundreds of thousands of nationals from other European Union countries, who have done us the honour of choosing Scotland as their home," she said.
Britain is set to formally leave the EU on March 29, 2019, and needs a Parliament-backed withdrawal agreement in place before then to ensure an orderly exit.
With Theresa May's negotiated deal not finding favour across all sides of the House of Commons, the fate of the agreement hangs in the balance in the lead-up to a vote scheduled for the week beginning January 14, 2019.