The prime minister has seen a negative reaction to advance previews of her forthcoming Florence speech, expected Friday afternoon, as it has been revealed she plans to keep the United Kingdom in the European Union until 2021.
Whilst the hard exit date from the bloc had previously been set at March 30th, 2019, Theresa May will try to revive foundering Brexit talks by proposing a two-year transition after Britain’s formal departure from the EU in 2019 to ensure there are no problems during the changeover.
There have not yet been any explanation from the government how precisely the two-year transition period will actually differ from full, ordinary membership of the EU. The point has been made by Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who responded to the development Friday morning on Twitter.
The May speech seems to say we are staying as members until at least 2021. Pathetic. https://t.co/7EkBA1Bl2d
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 22, 2017
The prime minister’s office said the British government and the EU both share “a profound sense of responsibility” to ensure their parting goes “smoothly and sensibly”.
Another point of contention expected from the Friday afternoon speech is the anticipated ‘divorce bill’ — a sum of money demanded by the EU from the UK as a price for leaving the bloc. Whilst the EU has floated figures between 50 and 100 billion euros, it has been pointed out in the UK that there is no legal basis for the demand – and in any case, paying it may be illegal in British law.
Media reports state PM May is expected to offer 20 billion euros to the EU in her Friday speech, but the fragments of the text given to press Friday do not mention a precise figure.
Although much lower than other estimates, at 20 billion euros, the rumoured figure is nearly half of the annual budget of the Ministry of Defence.