Public Policy

September 22, 2017

Brexit: Theresa May’s Florence Speech


If people were hoping for a speech that would unlock the negotiation logjam between the UK and the EU, then they will have been disappointed.

Much of it was a repeat, and as the PM herself said, a reaffirmation of the principles and vision set out in her Lancaster House speech at the beginning of the year. That said, there was some greater clarity offered. A shared arbitration process where there are disputes in future trade matters. A little more clarification on what the UK is prepared to pay for. And confirmation of a fixed transition period of two years, during which time the current terms apply to access each other’s market.

And there was a call for a more positive tone to the discussions. Which brings us to the central point. This intervention alone won’t be enough to persuade Michel Barnier in the next fortnight to recommend that sufficient progress has been made to move onto the next stage of the talks: the future relationship between the EU and UK. It will require quite a leap in next week’s detailed negotiations if this threshold is to be reached.

Indeed, if the talks are to move on, the UK’s negotiators and any speech by the Prime Minister alone will not be enough to persuade Barnier. Which brings us to who the speech was aimed at. May appealed directly to the leaders of the other EU Member States, for she will need their influence and persuasion to convince Barnier to move forwards. And, she has sated her warring Cabinet colleagues and backbenchers, allowing her time to concentrate on the battle in Brussels. For now at least…

Below we’ve pulled out the key points in her speech: click here to enlarge