Brussels chiefs urge Theresa May to come clean with British public about Brexit in her Florence speech
Theresa May should use her major Brexit speech in Florence next week to come clean with the British public about how much Britain needs cooperation with the EU on key issues, the President of the European Parliament said.
Antonio Tajani told The Independent that to break the deadlock in talks the Prime Minister needed to âadmitâ that on some issues the UK needed the EU more than the Government was âletting onâ to its domestic audience.
Echoing warnings by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Mr Tajani argued that it was Ms Mayâs duty to use the speech to put forward âconcrete proposalsâ that would protect the rights of EU citizens, solve the question of the Northern Ireland border and settle the divorce bill.
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The Prime Minister is travelling to the Tuscan city on Friday to make what is expected to be her most significant intervention in the Brexit process since her Lancaster House speech in January, when she committed to leaving the single market.
Speculation abounds, however, about whether the PM will use the opportunity to either publicly soften or harden her approach to talks, which ground to a halt at the end of August, with this monthâs round already postponed to allow for further âconsultationâ.
Gianni Pittella, leader of the parliamentâs socialist group, also told The Independent that the UK team had so far demonstrated an âincapacityâ to engage properly with negotiations and that the speech should represent a change in approach.
âIt would be high time for May to provide a clear position and stra tegy over Brexit [not only] to the EU negotiations team, but especially the British citizens and business that risk paying the highest price for the incapacity so far demonstrated by the British government,â Mr Pittella said.
âOn the fiscal settlement, the EU just wants a simple principle to be respected: pacta sunt servanda â" agreements must be respected. We hope Madame May wonât be so reckless to make UK come across as an unreliable actor on the international landscape.â
Parliament President Mr Tajani announced last week that he would ask the European Parliament to vote on whether the UK had made âsignificant progressâ on the eve of Ms Mayâs appearance at Tory party conference.
Asked about what should be in the speech, he told The Independent: âThe European Parliamentâs position has always been clear: protecting the rights of EU citizens, preserving the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement and honouring the financial comm itments made by the British government are matters that must be resolved in order for us to move forward.
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âI accept the UKâs decision to leave and would like us to maintain close relations after Brexit, but it is up to British negotiators to make concrete proposals, not the other way around.
âThe UK Government has to decide on the exact nature of the relationship that it wants with the EU and, in some quarters, admit that it needs the EU more than what it is letting on at home now.â
Brexit: the deciders
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Brexit: the deciders
European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier speaks to the media as he arrives at the Council of the European Union ahead of an EU Council meeting on April 29, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium. The 27 members of the European Union will meet in Brussels for a special European Council meeting to discuss the continuing Brexit negotiation
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) at the Elysee Pal ace, in Paris
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
The European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt gestures as he addresses a press conference with the European Parliament president after Britain initiated the process to leave the EU
Britain's Prime Minister Ther esa May stands on the flight deck and speaks to crew members of the 65,000-tonne British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth after it arrived at Portsmouth Naval base, its new home port on August 16, 2017 in Portsmouth, England. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship in the new Queen Elizabeth class of supercarriers. Weighing in at 65,000 tonnes she is the largest war ship deployed by the British Royal Navy. She is planned to be in service by 2020 and with a second ship, HMS Prince of Wales, to follow
Brexit Secretary David Davis in central London
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, leaves 11 Downing Street, in central London
Ms Mayâs trip to Florence recalls Margaret Thatcherâs 1988 Bruges speech, where she famously declared that âwe have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brusselsâ.
A leaked draft of the speech photographed in the hands of an aide by a Downing Street press photographer suggests PM is expected to pay tribute to Florenceâs historic trading links with Britain stretching back to the Middle Ages.
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