Theresa May urges EU to extend trade terms for two years after Brexit

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In a major speech British Prime Minister Theresa May proposed a two-year transition period for Britain after it leaves the European Union, suggesting that the UK would continue to “honour its commitments” under the bloc’s current budget.

May said Britain should be able to access the European single market during this period, adding that other EU members should not have to “pay more”.

The UK prime minister made the comments in a key speech in Florence today. The speech was aimed at breaking the deadlock in Brexit negotiations which are due to resume on Monday.

The success of negotiations between Britain and the European Union on Brexit is “in all our interests”, May continued.

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

May also said she wanted British courts to “take into account” European Court of Justice decisions when ruling on the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.

“I want the UK courts to be able to take into account the judgements of the European Court of Justice, ” she stressed.

EU officials have said that the European Court of Justice should retain jurisdiction over citizens of the union.

May added that Britain will “honour its commitments” to the current EU budget and other EU members should not “pay more or receive less” because of Brexit.

The comments come amid pressure from EU officials for Britain to make a monetary promise on its Brexit “divorce bill” to unblock negotiations in Brussels.

Strongest partner

The British Prime Minister also wants the UK to be the EU’s “strongest friend and partner” after it leaves the bloc in a hotly awaited speech on Brexit in Florence.

Britain may be leaving the EU, “but we are not leaving Europe”, she said.

She added that the rights of EU citizens in the UK will be fully guaranteed after Brexit.

“I’m clear the guarantee giving on your rights is real,” she said in an address aiming a breaking the deadlock in the Brexit negotiations, adding that a special mechanism needed to be found so that disputes are not left to the UK courts or the EC.

“I want to incorporate our agreement fully into UK law and make sure UK courts can refer directly to it,” she said.

“When there is uncertainty around underlying EU law, I want the UK courts to be able to take into account the judgment in European Court of Justice with a view to ensuring consistent interpretation”.

Single market

Britain is not prepared to pay for access to the European Union’s single market during a post-Brexit transition period, a UK government source said on Friday.

During her speech in Florence PM Theresa May called for Britain to stay in the single market under its current terms during a roughly two-year transition period.

Following the speech, a government source said Britain was categorically not prepared to pay for single market access, and that a commitment to honour Britain’s obligations referred only to specific programmes during the transition period.

Buying time

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage says Theresa May’s Brexit speech “made it pretty clear she doesn’t really want to leave [the EU] at all”.

He would not be surprised that if the PM is still in charge after the transitional period she would ask for even more time, he says.

Farage says her plan will “upset queues of countries” outside the EU who want to do business with the UK because it suggested they would not be signing trade deals until 2022 at the earliest.

“The message from Florence today is Britain is not open for business – we will not be doing any deals with you for many years to come.”

Claiming May is “wasting years and years of a golden opportunity”, he added: “It’s two fingers up to 17.4m people who voted for Brexit.”

Concerns

The head of the European Parliament’s biggest group, the centre-right European People’s Party, said British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit did not clarify London’s position and had left him more concerned than before.

“In substance PM May is bringing no more clarity to London’s positions. I am even more concerned now,” Manfred Weber said on Twitter.