The key objective of Theresa May’s speech in Florence has been rejected by France and Germany [Image: PA Wire/PA Images].
Theresa May’s Florence speech can’t have been all that well-received if France and Germany are rejecting its main message.
This is what she gets for assuming she can dictate the pace of Brexit negotiations and the subjects under discussion.
It has been said before, and will be said again – the UK is the weaker participant in these talks; the EU can basically do what it wants and if Mrs May doesn’t like it, she’ll have to lump it.
See if she doesn’t.
Paris and Berlin will reportedly reject requests for Brexit talks to move on to a possible transitional arrangement until the so-called “divorce bill” is settled, in a huge setback to Theresa May after her well received speech in Florence.
In that speech, the Prime Minister proposed a two-year transitional period after the UK leaves the EU, in a bid to break the deadlock of the negotiations.
But, according to the Financial Times, any hope of moving on to discussion of establishing a transitional deal will be effectively vetoed by France and Germany, until the question the UK’s exit settlement is fully agreed.
If you get a chance, click on the tweets and have a glance at the comments from outraged Tories, once again proving that they take the prize when it comes to online abuse. And also when it comes to being sensitive little snowflakes.
If Theresa May seriously intended her speech to be remembered as the one that finally united a country that has remained bitterly divided since Leavers and Remainers locked horns two Junes previous, the insincerity-soaked Conservative leader simply couldn’t have done a worse job.
Not only was her speech completely and utterly ridiculed by those of us on the left – for lacking any coherent substance whatsoever, for essentially begging the EU for a deal, and for being possibly the most over-hyped political non-event for a long, long while – the pro-Brexit masses welcomed Theresa May’s speech like a turd in a punch bowl.
It is safe to assume from the sheer scale of animosity, anger, ridicule, disbelief, and outright uproar on social media, that Theresa May’s speech has significantly harmed the party’s reputations with both their core supporters, as well as those who switched sides from UKIP and Labour to vote for a party who then seemed more inclined to push for a hard Brexit.
Whilst current polls show Labour holding a moderately strong and stable lead over the Tories (sorry, not sorry), and with Theresa May’s personal ratings plummeting even before her big Brexit speech, I would not be at all surprised if her hugely divisive declaration in Florence results in an even more pronounced collapse in the Tories’ numbers.
Demonstrators against Brexit gathered to challenge Theresa May outside the Florentine venue of her speech.
The best way to understand the stupidity of Theresa May’s speech on Brexit would be if an interviewer approached Jeremy Corbyn and asked how it feels for him to be the de facto leader of the Conservative government.
That is what Mrs May has done; she has admitted that she has no ideas of her own, so she has adopted Mr Corbyn’s and kicked the Brexit can another two years down the line. Perhaps she hopes she will have been removed from 10 Downing Street by then.
Her speech, touted as providing clarity on the UK’s desires for Brexit, turned out to be waffle. And it has disgusted commentators on all sides.
Here’s an example. She said the result of the EU referendum showed the people of the UK “want more direct control of decisions that affect their daily lives; and that means those decisions being made in Britain by people directly accountable to them. The strength of feeling that the British people have about this need for control and the direct accountability of their politicians is one reason why, throughout its membership, the United Kingdom has never totally felt at home being in the European Union.”
According to whom? This Writer does not recall being asked about that – how about you? From the indignation on the social media, I would imagine not:
How DARE the PM say that we have NEVER felt part of Europe ! That is SO insulting !#florencespeech
This should have made alarm bells chime in many people’s heads: “To make this partnership work, because disagreements inevitably arise, we will need a strong and appropriate dispute resolution mechanism.” What, like the ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ system that became the main reason the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty was scuppered? No, thank you. We don’t need any agreements that put corporations about law-making governments!
Here’s the part where she adopted Labour’s policy on a transitional period, although she tried to claim ownership of the idea and put a time limit of two years on it. She said a “period of implementation would be in our mutual interest. That is why I am proposing that there should be such a period after the UK leaves the EU… 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. 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.”
PM didn't need to go to Florence to accept that Labour is right about Brexit transitional arrangements. Not much else in the speech.
And she caved in to the EU on the question of the UK’s payments to that organisation. They will continue, even – in part – after we have left the bloc altogether: “The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership. And as we move forwards, we will also want to continue working together in ways that promote the long-term economic development of our continent. This includes continuing to take part in those specific policies and programmes which are greatly to the UK and the EU’s joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture – and those that promote our mutual security… We would want to make an ongoing contribution to cover our fair share of the costs involved.”
Last word has to go to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn – the man whose position Mrs May seems to have stolen wholesale. For him, it was hard to tell whether the biggest disappointment of the speech was the fact that it stated only things he had already explained, or the fact that none of the exotic location could be seen while it was being delivered by our robotic prime minister:
I’ll just leave this here, on the day after Theresa May’s hopelessly misjudged Brexit speech.
If the EU referendum was held again, Remain would win, according to a new poll.
The British public have turned their backs on the idea of Brexit just as Theresa May heads to Florence to make a key speech on her plans for a post-European future.
The new poll shows that the results would flip, with 52 per cent now backing staying put, and 48 backing leaving, a little over a year since the landmark decision was made, the poll by BMG for The Independent says.
When the same poll was conducted two months ago there was a 50:50 split. The poll surveyed over 1,400 Britons.
At a time when the Liberal Democrats are desperately trying to claw back some credibility, he make the excellent point that, after the betrayals of the last few years, it is unrealistic to expect anyone to believe anything Nick Clegg and his yellow friends say in the future.
Worse still, there is evidence that teams representing the Tories and Liberal Democrats negotiated what would be in a coalition agreement before the May 2010 election – the document mentioned in The Guardian‘s article is dated March 16, 2010 – and abolishing student tuition fees, a principle Liberal Democrat pledge, was not part of the agreement.
In other words, Clegg campaigned for two months ahead of the election with a promise that he knew he was going to break. Apparently you can get the full details in a book entitled Five Days To Power by Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East.
The article states: “George Osborne, who had long feared the Tories would struggle to win an overall parliamentary majority, persuaded David Cameron to allow him to form the Tories’ own secret coalition negotiating team two weeks before the election. The Tory leader demanded total secrecy and asked only to be given the barest details for fear that he would blurt it out ‘unplanned in an interview’.” (Thanks go to Vox Political commenter ‘Florence’ for these details)
With hindsight, we know that Cameron had other matters he needed to keep secret, such as the fact that he was claiming he would protect the public National Health Service, when in fact his colleague Andrew Lansley had been working on a plan to privatise it for many years. Lansley had also been sworn to secrecy.
So both Coalition parties have a proven track record of dishonesty in the run-up to the 2010 election and there is no reason to believe the Liberal Democrats have changed now. In fact, as Mark Steel points out, Clegg has even gone on record, saying “we have to be grown-up” to excuse himself.
In response, Mr Steel asserts: “If the grown-up way is to ignore everything you said to get elected, why bother having an election campaign at all? For the televised debates at the next election, Clegg might as well bring in a guinea-pig, and when he’s asked about his plans for defence, he can ask David Dimbleby, “Would you like to stroke Oscar?”
Other possible campaigning choices listed in the article include “learning to play the piccolo or building a canoe” because “it’s like a junkie telling you how this time the £200 he wants off you really will be paid back on Thursday. The carefully costed details don’t determine your decision so much as how last week he robbed your kids’ teddies and sold them for £12”.
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