May urges post-Brexit mar­ket tran­si­tion

Brus­sels frus­trated by lack of progress on sep­a­ra­tion

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May called on Fri­day for Bri­tain to stay in the EU’s sin­gle mar­ket dur­ing a roughly twoyear tran­si­tion out of the EU while of­fer­ing con­ces­sions on a di­vorce deal as she ap­pealed for a re­vival of Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

In a speech in a 14th­cen­tury church in Italy’s Florence, May spent much of the speech draw­ing on the sim­i­lar val­ues of Bri­tain and the rest of the EU.

She said if the com­pli­cated talks to un­ravel more than 40 years of union should fail, the only ben­e­fi­cia­ries would be those who op­pose democ­racy, lib­er­al­ism and free trade.

But her con­ces­sions on her vi­sion for a two-year tran­si­tion pe­riod on Bri­tain’s cur­rent mem­ber­ship terms, fi­nal fi­nan­cial set­tle­ment and le­gal pro­tec­tion of EU cit­i­zens rights when the UK leaves in March 2019 may still fall short of what the EU said was needed to move the talks for­ward.

“For while the UK’s de­par­ture from the EU is inevitably a dif­fi­cult process, it is in all of our in­ter­ests for our ne­go­tia- tions to suc­ceed,” she told an au­di­ence of Italian busi­ness lead­ers and diplo­mats.

“If we were to fail, or be di­vided, the only ben­e­fi­cia­ries would be those who re­ject our val­ues and op­pose our in­ter­ests.”

In Florence, May drew on the his­tory of an Italian city made wealthy by trade and bank­ing dur­ing the Re­nais­sance to un­der­line her de­sire for Bri­tain to be­come a ma­jor Euro­pean trad­ing power af­ter leav­ing the bloc.

Her words were aimed at unlocking the first phase of ne­go­ti­a­tions with the EU, all but stalled over one of the most sym­bol­i­cally im­por­tant ques­tions: How much will it cost Bri­tain, in hard cash, to end its EU mem­ber­ship in March 2019?

Since trig­ger­ing the di­vorce process, May has re­peat­edly said that Bri­tain would honor its obli­ga­tions but has also been un­der pres­sure from pro-Brexit sup­port­ers in her Con­ser­va­tive Party to re­duce the bill or even bring it down to zero.

May’s speech comes at the start of a cru­cial week for Europe.

Photo: VCG

Anti-Brexit pro­test­ers hold signs that read, “Europe is my coun­try – make it (y)ours again” and “De­nied a vote” on Fri­day in Florence, Italy, where Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May de­liv­ered a speech.

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