"I must be clear. Britain wants to remain a good friend and neighbor to Europe. Yet, I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend. Britain would not -- indeed, we could not -- accept such an approach."


Since the referendum, Britain's European partners have taken a hard line, warning that it cannot have an à la carte membership in which it cherry-picks the benefits it wants to retain. Some European leaders have also said that Britain should be punished in some way to deter other countries from trying to leave the European Union.

In her speech, Mrs. May emphasized Britain's friendship with Europe and said that the nation did not seek to unravel the union. But those comments were quickly followed by the threat that punitive measures against Britain could easily backfire. Case in point: This week, Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the Exchequer, suggested that Britain could transform itself into a corporate tax haven if the European Union failed to strike a trade agreement with the country.

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