Prime Minister makes big Brexit speech
On 22 September, UK Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech in the Italian city of Florence. She spoke about her plans for the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU), which is an organisation of 28 European countries. The UK voted to leave the EU after a referendum (special vote) held in June 2016. Leaving the EU is known as Brexit. The Prime Minister’s speech came ahead of the fourth round of official talks with the EU, which started in Brussels, Belgium, on 25 September.
What did she say?
Theresa May used her speech to outline new ideas fo rw hat the UK and the
EU’ sr elationship should be like after the UK leaves. At the moment, the UK i s still part of the EU, and it will be until
March 2019. At this point, the talk sw ill finish. May used her speech to propos eat wo-year transition period after official talks end, during which the UK would continue to follow the
EU’ sr ules, and get used to Brexit. The transition period, May said, “will not go on forever” and would end in 2021. She also suggested that there would be some protection for the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
May said that in return for a two-year transition period, the UK will pay money to the EU until 2020. This money is for promises the UK made before the country voted to leave, and the amount has be en estimated at between £17.6 billion and £40 billion. The Prime Minister said that the UK would “cover our fair share of the costs ”.
She also said that, after Brexit, she wants the UK to enjoy a special trade agreement with the EU, instead of copying deals that other non-EU countries have.
What was the reaction?
The EU’s head of Brexit talks, Michel Barnier, described the speech as a “step forward”. Talks have been taking place for four days every month since June, but haven’t been going very well. Neither side can agree o n certain issues, including how much the UK should pay the EU. EU leaders welcomed May’s speech, but said the points needed to be “re-confirmed” during further official talks.
Has the Prime Minister’s speech made a difference?
The speech was supposed to ease the talks, which started again last Monday. There are still some difficulties, though, as the EU wants certain issues, including the exact amount the UK will pay upon departure, resolved. The UK, meanwhile, says it will only discuss how much it will pay once its future relationship with the EU is clear.