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Hilary Benn comments on May's Florence speech

25 September 2017

Following the Prime Minister's speech in Florence, Hilary Benn, Chair of the Exiting the EU Committee, comments on the announcement that the Government wants to stay bound by EU rules for 'around' two years after March 2019.

A small step forward

Hilary Benn, Chair of the Exiting the EU Committee, commented:

"It has taken the Government a very long time to accept the reality that the UK will need transitional arrangements as we leave the EU. So, the Prime Minister's announcement that the Government wants to stay bound by EU rules for 'around' two years after March 2019, that it will offer a financial settlement to honour our obligations and that EU citizens will still be able to come to the UK although they will have to register, does represent a small step forward.

However, it remains to be seen whether these proposals will be enough to unblock the talks, especially since it is no clearer how the Government proposes to avoid the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
 
More worryingly, we still don't know what will come after the transition. Mrs May ruled out both the Norwegian and Canadian options in favour of a 'bespoke' deal. Yesterday, Mr Barnier made clear that no such option is on the table as far as the EU is concerned. How does the Prime Minister plan to achieve such a deal when her speech did not provide the detail or certainty that British business desperately needs so it can plan ahead?
 
On diplomacy, defence, security and development, the Prime Minister's wish for a relationship with the EU which is unprecedented in depth and co-operation will be welcomed, but here too we need to see what this will mean in practice."

Further information

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