U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May provided the strongest indication to date that the government is willing to discuss a transitional arrangement with the European Union that could involve staying in the single market.
In a question-and-answer session that followed keynote speech in London to the Confederation of British Industry, the U.K.'s biggest lobby group, May indicated the potential for some kind of deal with authorities in Brussels that would avoid what she called a "cliff edge", or Hard Brexit, in which U.K. would retreat entirely from the European Union at the conclusion of its Article 50 negotiations.
"Obviously as we look at the negotiation we want to get the arrangement that is going to work best for the UK and the arrangement that is going to work best for business in the UK," May said "People don't want a cliff edge, they want to know with some certainty how things are going to go forward. That will be part of the work that we do in terms of the negotiation that we are undertaking with the European Union."
The view supports what appears to be a concerted effort to earn the support of British business amid criticism that the government's post-Brexit vote plans lack cohesion and discipline. In that respect, her speech included a reference to the idea that trade union representatives would be placed on the boards of U.K. companies, something for which she had recently advocated.
"First, while it is important that the voices of workers and consumers should be represented, I can categorically tell you that this is not about mandating works councils, or the direct appointment of workers or trade union representatives on Boards, " May said in her prepared remarks.
"Second, this is not about creating German-style binary boards which separate the running of the company from the inputs of shareholders, employees, customers or suppliers," she added.
May's speech also comes amid speculation that her cabinet colleague, finance minister Phillip Hammond, will unveil sharp reductions in corporate tax rates when he delivers his first 'Autumn Statement' of the country's budget and finances to parliament Wednesday.
"Since 2010 we have made the Research and Development Credit more generous and easier to use - and support has risen from £1 billion ($1.24 billion) to almost £2.5 billion a year, " May said. "Now we want to go further, and look at how we can make our support even more effective - because my aim is not simply for the UK to have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G20, but also a tax system that is profoundly pro-innovation."