Theresa May denies betraying Brexit voters

Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech in Florence (PA Images)
Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech in Florence (PA Images)

Theresa May has denied that she has let down Brexit voters, following a speech in Florence in which she called for a two-year transition period following Britain’s official exit from the EU.

In her 35-minute speech she said that Britain would honour its commitments to the EU budget during this time.

The Prime Minister also swiped away accusations that Britain has failed to secure a single concession from the EU during the complex negotiations, but failed to name any examples of Europe agreeing to a compromise.

Following her speech, seen as an attempt to break the negotiating deadlock, Mrs May was asked what she would say to Leave voters who feel ‘betrayed’ that nothing has changed since the referendum vote.

The Prime Minister speaks in Italy (PA Images)
The Prime Minister speaks in Italy (PA Images)

She replied: ‘What the Government is doing is ensuring that we deliver on what the people who voted to leave wanted, which is us leaving the European Union.

‘But if we are going to ensure that we do that in a way that does as little damage and disruption to our economy and to people’s lives as possible, we need to do that in a smooth and orderly way.

‘What we’re very clear about is that the implementation period will be time limited and crucially that we will leave the European Union in March 2019.

‘That’s what the process of withdrawal allows for and that is what’s going to happen.’

When asked to ‘point to a single concessions from the EU that [her] negotiating strategy has won, Mrs May failed to pick out any example, instead speaking vaguely about the talks as a whole.

‘Well I can say that during the negotiations we’ve got to at the moment there are a number of issues where we’ve set a position paper forward to the EU, and we now have agreement on a variety of the issues that we’re looking at,’ she said.

This is a negotiation. During that process sides put out their positions, discuss their positions, and come to an agreement.

‘What I’m doing today is saying that here is an opportunity for both of us, the UK and the EU, to come to agree to a new partnership, a partnership that hasn’t been in place with anybody else in the past… but can be one that can really show a great future both for the EU and the UK, our future property for people not just in the UK but the European Union as well.’