MEPs offer Theresa May some ideas for Florence speech

Written by Martin Banks on 21 September 2017 in News

Theresa May has been urged to be bold and ambitious in her speech on Brexit in Italy on Friday.

Theresa May | Photo credit: Press Association

A cabinet minister said UK Prime Minister Theresa May will present an “open and generous offer” to the rest of the EU.

It is thought that might include a guarantee that no EU country would lose out from changes to the EU’s current budget as a result of the UK leaving.

But another minister warned against offering too much money, saying “it’s our only leverage”.


With the current Brexit talks currently stalled over issues such as citizens’ rights and the UK’s divorce bill, the Parliament Magazine canvassed the opinions of MEPs on what they suggest May should say.

UK Socialist MEP Claude Moraes, who chairs Parliament’s civil liberties committee, said, “In her speech, Theresa May should use this opportunity to stop bargaining over citizens’ rights and provide people in the UK and the EU with the clarity they need. 

Equally, despite the government’s claims to the contrary, further detail and assurances are needed to ensure that security cooperation between the EU and the UK will not be hindered following Brexit. It is critical that these issues are prioritised, both to enable progress in the negotiations and to ensure the security of all our citizens.”

His group colleague Linda McAvan, Chair of Parliament’s development committee, told this website, “Theresa May needs to start behaving like a prime minister and show leadership by putting some serious proposals on the table, and fast. 

“We’ve had enough platitudes about ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and a ‘deep and special’ relationship. We have to set out clearly our position, whether on the transitional period or on our financial commitments to the EU. For once she needs to put country before party in her Florence speech, tell Boris Johnson to put up or shut up and tell her party some home truths.”

Fellow S&D group member Jo Leinen added, “For the Brexit negotiations to succeed, the one thing we need from Prime Minister May is clarity, just the way the EU position has been clear from the outset of the negotiations. 

“Theresa May must start showing leadership instead of pleasing the hard Brexiteers in the Tory party and within the UK government, which keep operating with wrong assumptions and even outright lies. The public debate in the UK must be freed from the many illusions that had been spread during the referendum campaign and many decades before, and instead focus on a realistic post-Brexit vision.”

Syed Kamall, co-Chair of Parliament’s ECR group, said, “The Prime Minister has been very clear as to what she wants and what the UK position is, with the UK government further detailing its position in a number of papers released over the last few weeks, and I’m sure the Prime Minister will give further clarity in her speech in Florence.

“This is how negotiations work, both sides staking positions, taking the time to consider the other’s positions, waiting for the other to back down, or concede. I think we need to wait and see what progress is made at the next Council meeting.

“However, it’s interesting that the EU has already started making demands on the future UK-EU trade issues, while insisting these issues should be discussed later. I do believe that if the EU and

Michel Barnier allowed for parallel talks on more than one issue at a time, then this would help speed negotiations along, but I understand why EU negotiators are focusing on extracting as much money as possible from the UK to fill a future hole in the EU’s budget.

“When looking at the negotiations, you will not see either UK or EU negotiators emerging from any of the individual rounds claiming victory. These negotiations will probably go the full distance and end up with both sides getting a deal that commentators will argue over for years to come.”

ECR group deputy Dan Dalton commented, “Both the UK and the remaining EU member states need each other. As the Prime Minister will show in her speech in Florence, the UK is leaving the political project of the European Union, not Europe. The two can sometimes be confused.

“A deep and special partnership, as existed between the UK and many European countries long before the EU ever came into being, is in all our mutual interests.”

Scottish Nationalist Alyn Smith remarked, “I hope Mrs May will make a real attempt to clear the air and make progress, it will after all be her first. The case for Brexit is falling apart more and more on a daily basis, with now even her own government crumbling under her with her own ministers fighting like ferrets in a sack.”

He added, “Scotland voted clearly and decisively for Europe, and I hope that we will be able to knuckle down and find solutions, but for that we will need to see a degree of seriousness we have not seen from the UK government so far, hopefully we will all be clearer by Friday.”


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine


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