LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May called on Friday for a roughly two-year transition for Britain after it leaves the European Union while also offering some concessions on a divorce deal.
Below are reactions to May’s speech in Florence, which she hopes will inject new momentum into the Brexit negotiations.
“The speech shows a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence. Prime Minister May’s statements are a step forward but they must now be translated into a precise negotiating position of the UK government.”
Barnier also noted May did not address the issue of the future of Northern Ireland’s relations with Ireland.
“Fifteen months after the EU referendum the government is still no clearer about what our long term relationship with the EU will look like. The only advance seems to be that the prime minister has listened to Labour and faced up to the reality that Britain needs a transition on the same basic terms to provide stability for businesses and workers.”
MANFRED WEBER, HEAD OF CENTRE-RIGHT GROUP IN EU PARLIAMENT
“In substance Prime Minister May is bringing no more clarity to London’s positions. I am even more concerned now.”
“Theresa May’s Brexit vision is that we leave the EU in name only. All areas of integration we have currently will be rebadged.”
“While the UK has taken a limited step toward a more pragmatic stance on the initial legal exit from the EU that emerged over the summer, its position appears to remain deeply conflicted.
“As many had anticipated, the speech falls short of addressing the legacy financial issues which the EU has highlighted as key to moving on to a second stage of the talks.
“Our best guess is that the degree of antagonism between the two sides will rise in the near term.”
MILES CELIC, CEO, THECITYUK, FINANCIAL SERVICES LOBBY GROUP
“In calling for a time-limited transitional period under the existing rules and structures, she has echoed our industry’s priorities and the calls of businesses on both sides of the Channel.
“Similarly, since the start of the Brexit negotiations, we have been clear on the benefits of mutual regulatory recognition. It’s very positive to see that the British government supports this principle – one which is in the best interests of all parties.”
“For the first time, today’s intervention by the prime minister provides a potential route forward out of the current uncertainty caused by the stalled negotiations.”
“The intention to negotiate an implementation phase based on our current arrangements with the EU-27 is a welcome step in helping businesses manage the ongoing uncertainty.”
“While further clarity around the government’s wider position is welcome, the commitment to a two-year transition makes it even more important that rapid progress is made in the negotiations.”
CATHERINE MCGUINNESS, POLICY CHAIRMAN, CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION
“Firms in the financial and professional services sector plan two to or more years in advance. With only 18 months left until the UK leave the bloc, urgent agreement on a transitional arrangement is crucial.
“Otherwise, firms may well be forced to implement contingency plans unnecessarily.”
TIM GRAF, EMEA HEAD OF MACRO STRATEGY, STATE STREET GLOBAL MARKETS
“For the near-term, negotiations may likely be hampered by the lack of detail offered on the main items for discussion, namely the Irish border question, the ultimate financial settlement with the EU and the rights of EU citizens.”
STEPHEN MARTIN, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS
“There was welcome honesty in today’s speech that not following one of the existing models will have some implications for market access for UK firms.
“A lot more honesty will be needed as the Brexit negotiations continue, as any decision on immigration or regulation, for example, will have knock-on effects and businesses and the public are entitled to know what the trade-offs are.”
ADAM MARSHALL, DIRECTOR GENERAL, BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE
“The absolute priorities for business are to get trade talks moving, and to ensure a comprehensive transition period is in place that gives the certainty that companies need to take immediate investment and hiring decisions. It is our hope that the prime minister’s offer will jump-start the process.”
HELEN DICKINSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM
“The prime minister is right to offer a real guarantee to both EU workers and UK nationals in the EU-27 between 2019-2021, subject to a registration requirement.
“However, they still need practical details about the process for registration and securing their status, so the UK government should negotiate with the EU Commission so that preferential reciprocal labour market access across industries like retail can be put in place for the post-implementation period.”
“We are astonished to hear Theresa May claim she will guarantee the current rights of EU citizens living in the UK. Current government proposals remove a number of rights from EU citizens, including the right to be joined in the UK by a spouse, child or elderly parent.”
Reporting by UK bureau; Writing by James Davey; Editing by William Schomberg