‘TO provide certainty,’ Tory PM Theresa May said yesterday, ‘I can confirm today that the government will put the final deal which is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both houses of parliament before it comes into force.’

She was speaking at Lancaster House, outlining the government’s plan for what she calls a ‘clean Brexit’.She said: ‘I want to be clear what I am proposing cannot mean membership of the Single Market. European leaders have said many times that membership means accepting the four freedoms of goods, capital, services and people, and being out of the EU but a member of the Single Market would mean complying with the EU’s rules and regulations which implement those freedoms without having a vote on what those rules and regulations are.’

Raising the spectre of other European countries following Britain’s example she warned: ‘I believe that there is a lesson in Brexit, not just for Britain but, if it wants to succeed, for the EU itself, because our continent’s great strength has always been its diversity.

‘There are two ways in dealing with different interests: You can respond by trying to hold things together by force, tightening a vice-like grip that ends up crushing into tiny pieces the very things you want to protect. Or one can respect difference, cherish it even, and reform the EU so that it better deals with the wonderful diversity of its member states.’

May used her speech to announce the UK’s priorities for the Brexit negotiations, including:

• Maintaining the common travel area between the UK and Irish Republic.

• Tariff-free trade with the EU.

• A customs agreement with the EU.

• New trade agreements with countries outside the EU.

• Continued ‘practical’ sharing of intelligence and policing information.

• ‘Control’ of immigration rights for EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.

• A ‘phased approach’ to leaving the EU.

During the questions and answers session at the end of her speech, it was put point-blank to May that in putting the ‘final deal’ to the vote she opens up parliament to defy the will of the people. One reporter asked: ‘You have confirmed that parliament will have a vote on the final deal, if parliament were to reject the final deal, would we still be in the EU?’

May avoided answering the question.