UK leader to try to break Brexit logjam in Italy speech

(AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May will try Friday to revive foundering Brexit talks — and unify her fractious government — by proposing a two-year transition after Britain’s departure from the European Union in 2019 during which the U.K. would continue to pay into the bloc’s coffers.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the speech would show that Britain is a country that “meets is obligations.”
May’s office released extracts from a speech she will deliver in Florence, Italy, arguing that Britain and the EU share “a profound sense of responsibility” to ensure their parting goes “smoothly and sensibly.”
Her office said in a statement that the speech will “discuss a vision for a bold new economic and security partnership and set out the prime minister’s plan for a time-limited implementation period, offering certainty and clarity to businesses and citizens.”
The speech comes before a new round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels next week. Britain triggered a two-year countdown to her country’s exit from the EU in March, but negotiations have yielded little progress on key issues such as the status of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border and the amount Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc.
EU officials say talks can’t move on to future relations with Britain until key divorce terms — the Irish border, the financial settlement and the rights of citizens hit by Brexit — have been agreed upon.
Britain, however, wants to begin discussing future links, including trade and security cooperation. British negotiators hope EU leaders will decide at an October meeting that “sufficient progress” has been made on the divorce terms to move talks on to future relations and trade.
So far, the signs are that British hopes are in vain.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Thursday that “there is still today major uncertainty on each of the key issues of the first phase.”
“To make progress, we are waiting for clear commitments from the U.K. on these precise issues,” Barnier told Italian parliamentarians in Rome. He said he would “listen attentively and constructively to Theresa May’s important speech.”
May wants her speech to break the logjam, but she is hamstrung by deep divisions within her government. It is split between supports of a clean-break “hard Brexit,” including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and those such as Treasury chief Philip Hammond who want to soften the economic impact of Brexit through a long status-quo transition period.
A multibillion-pound (dollar, euro) payment to the bloc would be anathema to euroskeptic lawmakers and government ministers. British media have reported that May is considering offering to pay 20 billion euros ($24 billion) during the transition period.
UK leader to try to break Brexit logjam in Italy speech UK leader to try to break Brexit logjam in Italy speech Reviewed by Alexander Von Stern on 03:08:00 Rating: 5