Flurry of keynote UK govt speeches to detail Brexit ‘road map’

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (C) leads a cabinet meeting flanked by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (3 R) following a reshuffle at 10 Downing Street in central London on January 9, 2018
AFP

London (AFP) – Prime Minister Theresa May and senior Cabinet ministers will set out “Britain’s road map to Brexit” in a series of keynote speeches over the coming weeks, Downing Street said Sunday.

The addresses will culminate in a speech by May outlining the government’s ambitions for a future partnership with the European Union after the country’s departure from the bloc in March, 2019.

“Brexit is a defining moment in the history of our nation,” a Downing Street source said.

“We will be forging an ambitious new partnership with Europe and charting our own way in the world to become a truly global, free trading nation.  

“As we move along the road to that future, we will set out more detail so people can see how this new relationship will benefit communities in every part of our country.”

The series will begin next week when Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson makes “a rallying cry to those on both sides of the Brexit debate,” according to Downing Street.

May will then detail hoped-for new security arrangements with the EU at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

A further three speeches are planned for the next two weeks before she makes a second address.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will discuss business standards, Cabinet Officer minister David Lidington will talk about devolution, while Trade Secretary Liam Fox will detail future global trade deal strategy, No. 10 said.

Downing Street also confirmed May and top Cabinet ministers will hold an “away day” committee meeting at Chequers, British leaders’ rural country residence.

There they will bid to thrash out substantial differences over the future relationship with Brussels.

Finance minister Philip Hammond, seen as a Brexit sceptic, is not slated to deliver one of the touted speeches.

Justice Secretary David Gauke denied Sunday there was a “plot to gag a particular faction of ministers.”

“I don’t think that’s a fair characterisation at all,” he told ITV.

Meanwhile, after Japanese business leaders who met May in Downing Street this week expressed concern about the Brexit’s potential impact, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said the coming weeks would give them “some answers”. 

“We’ve got to give business, but other organisations as well, a flavour of what they need to plan for and some certainty,” she said.

Despite a warning Friday from EU negotiator Michel Barnier that a post-Brexit transition period was being endangered by substantial ongoing disagreements, Mordaunt predicted “common sense will prevail”. 

“The other nations involved in this are very pragmatic and have not been impressed with some of the language that the Commission has used,” she added. 

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