LONDON • Prime Minister Theresa May said in her New Year's address that Britain can turn a corner this year and move forward with optimism - if Parliament backs her Brexit deal.
"New Year is a time to look ahead and in 2019 the UK will start a new chapter," she said, as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union on March 29.
"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."
Most British lawmakers do not back the deal Mrs May reached with the EU. They are due to debate the Britain-EU withdrawal agreement next Wednesday, before voting the following week.
The 2016 referendum on leaving the EU was "divisive", Mrs May said, "but we all want the best for our country and 2019 can be the year we put our differences aside and move forward together, into a strong new relationship with our European neighbours and out into the world as a globally trading nation".
Once Britain leaves the EU, the Conservative government can focus its energy on boosting the economy, opening up new markets and building homes, she added, while a skills-based immigration system would replace the free movement of EU migrants.
"Together, I believe we can start a new chapter with optimism and hope," Mrs May said.
A spokesman for her Downing Street office said discussions between London and Brussels had continued, and Mrs May was working on getting "legal and political assurances".
In a message posted on Twitter, Mr Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, denounced the Conservative Party's handling of Brexit: "Eight years of damaging Tory failure has left us with a divided country where millions are struggling to make ends meet."