05 March, 2018
Tony Blair, the former Labour prime minister who is among the more prominent campaigners trying to halt Brexit, was in Brussels on Thursday, aiming to persuade European Union policymakers to be ready to welcome Britain to remain if it changes its mind - and be ready to show a will to reform, especially to curb the easy migration across the European Union that anxious many Britons.
Mrs May is expected to say: "We must bring our country back together, taking into account the views of everyone who cares about this issue, from both sides of the debate". British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech on what her government is looking for, to which some responded that what how she will achieve those goals is still anything but clear.
And she struck a conciliatory tone by saying neither side would get "exactly what we want" from the talks, and signalling Britain would not fight losing European Union passporting rights. While Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, welcomed the "clarity" that May provided, other European Union officials said there were still many questions that urgently need answering. "We want competition between us to be fair and open, and we want reliable transparent means of verifying we are meeting our commitments and resolving our disputes", according to May.
"I believe that is achievable because it is in the EU's interests as well as ours and because of our unique starting point, where on day one we both have the same laws and rules".
Hardline Brexiteers will be more anxious about the speech than the party's pro-Europeans.
An official in May's office told reporters the speech showed the prime minister is being pragmatic rather than theological.
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This was dutifully followed by the insistence, "We want the freedom to negotiate trade agreements with other countries around the world" married to "the broadest and deepest possible".
May's spokesman said her ministers had agreed with her that her speech would be "a real step forward in the negotiations".
EC chief negotiator Michel Barnier issued a tweet welcoming "Clarity about United Kingdom leaving single market and customs union, and recognition of trade-offs will inform European Council guidelines re: future free trade agreement", which the EC said would be the full extent of its response to the speech.
Mr Barnier urged British politicians to face up to hard choices raised by the decision to leave the EU.
But Heidi Allen, who also signed the amendment, tweeted: "I'm greatly encouraged by PM's speech - categorically said WTO not acceptable, no hard border in, citizens to continue to work and study across UK/EU, science participation, mutual regs for eg medicine, data sharing and tariff-free customs arrangement #RoadtoBrexit". We have a shared interest in getting this right.
The EU diplomat said that in order to start work on the post-Brexit EU-UK partnership, Brussels needs to know what Britain's vision of the future is, not only on trade but also security, defence, foreign policy, justice and home affairs and individual sectors like aviation.