Irish PM says May speech 'genuine effort to move things forward'

Irish PM says May speech 'genuine effort to move things forward'”

Theresa May's Brexit speech is a major snub to Boris Johnson and if the Foreign Secretary was true to his word, he'd resign.

Britain's formal departure from the European Union is set for March 29, 2019, with the proposed two-year transition period to follow. But not a single European Union official is reportedly planning to attend the speech, even though the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier is in Italy right now. Why?

Some voters were anxious about the prospect of Brexit - but others found it an "exciting time", she said.

The EU's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said in a statement that May had "expressed a constructive spirit".

Although Britain is scheduled to exit the European Union in 2019, there has been little progress in talks since March, when London formally announced its intention to leave.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he gave Mrs May's speech a "cautious welcome", describing it as "a genuine effort by the Prime Minister to move things along and make progress".

"The sooner we make real "sufficient progress" on the conditions of the UK's withdrawal, the sooner we can begin discussing our future partnership", he said in a speech to the Italian senate on Thursday, seen as the EU's opportunity to highlight issues it sought clarity from Britain on, including the rights of European Union citizens, the financial settlement and the Irish border.

Mrs May, in a direct message to Europeans living in the United Kingdom, said: "We want you to stay, we value you and we thank you for your contribution to our national life".

The speech in a 14th-century church in Italy today was aimed at breaking the deadlock in Brexit talks, due to resume on Monday. The government is trying to claim that this is just about a tidying up exercise and that effectively we must leave the single market when we leave the EU.

He added: "While the Prime Minister's speech was short on detail, her acceptance of a transition period within the single market, with freedom of movement, shows that the UK Government has changed its position".

Echoing reactions from diplomats and officials involved in the negotiations who spoke privately to Reuters, Barnier said it was a "step forward" that May said British courts would protect EU citizens in Britain based directly on a new EU-UK treaty, not on British law, and would take future EU case law into account. She is also likely to continue work to advance the British agenda and to inform other EU countries about her Brexit plans during the informal European Council summit taking place in Estonia at the end of September.

The British leader ruled out a Canada-style free-trade deal or EEA membership, saying: "We can do so much better" as the the largest trading partner of the EU.

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