As it happenedended1506111980

Theresa May Florence speech live updates: PM pleas to stay in the Single Market for two years after Brexit

Andrew Griffin,Benjamin Kentish
Friday 22 September 2017 10:01
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What will be in Theresa May's big Brexit speech?

Theresa May has proposed remaining in the single market for a transition period of around two years after Brexit.

In a landmark Brexit speech in Florence, the Prime Minister said existing market arrangements should continue to apply during a two-year implementation period after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

She indicated freedom of movement would also continue during the transition but workers coming into the UK would go through a "registration system".

Ms May said: "Clearly people, businesses and public services should only have to plan for one set of changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU.

"So during the implementation period access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms and Britain also should continue to take part in existing security measures. And I know businesses, in particular, would welcome the certainty this would provide.

"The framework for this strictly time-limited period, which can be agreed under Article 50, would be the existing structure of EU rules and regulations."

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Chris Grayling did not rule out the possibility of continuing to pay to settle the costs of long term liabilities such as the pensions of EU officials working in Brussels.

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 10:39
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Matthew O’Toole, who was Number 10’s chief Brexit spokesman until recently, urged Theresa May to change tactics and use a landmark speech in Florence to “communicate clearly” with the public on the realities of the EU withdrawal.

Brexit position papers published recently offer a blurred picture of Britain’s priorities over key issues such as future trade deals and the Irish border, which may not be completely achievable, he said.

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 11:40
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A small but extremely enthusiastic band of anti-Brexit protesters are assembled outside the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence ahead of Theresa May’s speech – some waving placards with demonic-looking pictures of the PM on them.

“Denied a vote: Denied a voice,” one sign reads, waved by a British national living in Italy – one of thousands whose future in their adoptive country was plunged into uncertainty since a referendum they had no vote in. 

Apart from the EU flag, Ms May’s face is the most omnipresent image displayed in the notably calm crowd, illustrating the extent to which the once Remain-supporting PM has personalised Brexit as an issue and staked her reputation on it.

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 12:03
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Demonstrators have warned Theresa May that she needs to make sure to guarantee the rights of the millions of EU citizens who are living in Britain, according to the Press Association's Arj Singh:

Theresa May's attempt to break the deadlock in Brexit negotiations will fail unless she guarantees the rights of millions of European Union (EU) citizens living in Britain, demonstrators have warned.

A group of about 30 gathered in the piazza in front of the Santa Maria Novella basilica in Florence where the Prime Minister is due to deliver a key speech on Brexit designed to push faltering talks forward.

Former Labour MP Roger Casale, who organised the demo for the New Europeans campaign group, called on Mrs May and the EU to unilaterally make guarantees for 3.4 million Europeans in the UK and the one million or so British expats on the continent.

Among the protesters were Italians and Florentines who live in the UK and Britons who live in Italy.

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 13:12
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Britons who are living abroad are gathering in Florence to protest against Theresa May's approach to Brexit, writes Reuters' Isla Binnie:

Expatriate Britons gathered in Florence on Friday to voice their frustration at how Brexit will impact them, awaiting the British prime minister's arrival in the Italian city to set out her vision for future ties with the European Union.

May will try to rescue the stalled talks over terms for Britain's exit from the EU in a speech that will be scrutinised to see if she can offer enough to EU negotiators to persuade them to move forward.

Outside an imposing 14th century church in the centre of the Tuscan city, protesters waved EU flags and posters showing May holding a burning passport. They called for the rights of British citizens living in other EU countries to be protected.

Rachel Pugh, a 48-year-old from north Wales who has lived in Florence since 1991, said she was worried about losing her rights to a pension in the future and had been left uninformed by the British government.

"Who do we ask? The tooth fairy? Father Christmas? The Easter Bunny? Who can we trust? None of them," she said, sporting EU and Welsh flags on her lapel. "We couldn't vote. We're invisible, in limbo."

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 13:13
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The Evening Standard (and, presumably, George Osborne) has written a blistering editorial against Theresa May's speech and the ideas that it's expected to espouse:

So Britain has blinked. As this paper has predicted for four months, gone is the pretence that in our negotiations with the EU “no deal is better than a bad deal”. Today, in Florence, the Prime Minister’s whole speech is an admission that Britain has no option but to deal. 

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 13:51
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The Independent's Jon Stone warns us from Florence that we'd better get comfortable:

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 14:03
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And he notes this mural, which hopefully isn't too much of a portent.

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 14:04
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BBC notes that this room was formerly used as a police barracks. Hopefully that isn't too much of a portent, either.

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 14:08
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The BBC's coverage is being done against the backdrop of a protest by demonstrators who argue that Theresa May should protect the rights of EU nationals in Britain, and vice versa. That's supposed to be addressed as part of the speech.

Andrew Griffin22 September 2017 14:11

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