Delivering a key speech on Brexit in Florence last week (22/09/2017), UK Prime Minister Theresa May has laid out her offer to introduce a transition period after the UK formally leaves the European Union in March 2019.
In what she called a "defining moment in the history of our nation", the PM stated that the UK and EU must continue to work together to create a "new partnership that would benefit all our people".
She promised that the UK would "honour its commitments" to the EU budget as well as guaranteeing the rights of all EU citizens, around three million, living in the UK. Mrs May also stated that she wanted “a bold new strategic agreement that provides a comprehensive framework for future security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation: a treaty between the UK and the EU.”
Bruce Potter, chairman of law firm Blake Morgan, said that "it was not enough to paper over the huge gap that remains between the UK’s domestic political view of Brexit and the way that the rest of Europe sees it".
He considers the question of continued payments to the EU to be a "huge stumbling block" which must be resolved if any "useful talks" are to take place on life after Brexit.
Mr Potter added: "Mrs May has asked the EU to be 'imaginative and creative' but until she is more forthcoming about exactly what she wants Brexit to be, it is hard to imagine anything but continued deadlock.”
On the question of EU nationals, Katie Newbury, senior associate in the immigration law team at Kingsley Napley LLP, welcomed the "compromise" made by the Prime Minister in relation to the rights of EU citizens in the UK and their status post-Brexit.
However, she said, it may not be enough to "allay the uncertainty many EU citizens here are feeling" with most being "increasingly wary" of the UK Government’s attitude towards them and "hostile to being treated as a pawn" in the negotiations.
“Whilst it is encouraging that the UK Government appear to be softening their stance, it is only an offer and falls short of the now urgent and necessary reassurance required to shore up the fears of those contemplating leaving the UK," she said.
"Surely it is time for the UK to fully endorse the comprehensive and reciprocal approach put forward by the EU which provides certainty, clarity and the protection of the ECJ? Otherwise there is a serious risk Brexodus may change from a trickle to a flood which at the end of the day will be bad for British employers from the NHS through to the City.”
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