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Summary

  1. PM proposes transition period of two years after UK leaves EU
  2. Theresa May addressed press and politicians in Florence
  3. PM says EU 'never felt to us like integral part of our national story'
  4. Theresa May says UK would pay its 'fair share' into the EU budget
  5. She says the UK will be 'strongest friend and partner' for the EU
  6. Labour says speech left 'questions unanswered'

Live Reporting

By Jackie Storer and Aiden James

All times stated are UK

Theresa May speech recap

Here's a round-up of key points in the PM's Florence speech and reaction to it:

  • Transition period could be around two years, during which time access to the single market will continue on current terms
  • Mrs May proposes a "bold new security agreement" between the UK and EU
  • On trade, the PM says both sides could do "so much better" than adopting existing models
  • The UK would honour commitments made while it remains a member
  • There was "no need to impose tariffs where there are none now"
  • EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier described the speech as "constructive"
  • He said the prime minister had shown "a willingness to move forward"
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the speech suggested the PM had faced up to the reality "that Britain needs a transition to provide stability for businesses and workers"
  • But former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "Theresa May's vision is that we leave the European Union but we do it in name only."

Irish minister: More work needed on Brexit

Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney hailed Theresa May's speech as "a positive contribution" towards making progress on citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and Irish issues.

But he said it was clear "a lot of work is still required before European leaders can make a decision that parallel discussions on the EU’s future relationship with the UK can begin".

He added:

Ultimately Ireland wants: the gains of the peace process protected, including avoiding a hard border, an orderly UK withdrawal, a sufficiently long and non-disruptive transition arrangement, and the closest possible EU-UK future relationship, including in trade, which minimises to the greatest extent possible the impact on the Irish economy.”

May uses Florence Brexit speech for 'sympathetic gesture'

Laura Kuenssberg

BBC political editor

Theresa May
BBC

"At times our need for a sympathetic gesture is so great, we care not what exactly it signifies or how much we have to pay afterwards."

Forgive the delving into my fifth year English homework. (Before you ask: EM Forster, A Room with a View, the homework was rather a long time ago.) But, when someone has said it better before, why try to say it again?

Theresa May's speech is indeed, above all else, an attempt at a "sympathetic gesture", an admission that the UK government is willing to pay tens of billions of taxpayers' cash to the EU over the next couple of years, and acknowledgement that there will have to be a limited, but extended period of time - a transition period - where the relationship between the UK and the EU might not actually change very much.

It is an offer, not a blinding revelation, but a limited flash of ankle to her continental counterparts.

Read more

SNP: Theresa May has changed her position on Brexit

Scotland's Brexit Minister and SNP veteran Michael Russell described Theresa May's speech as "short on detail", but her acceptance of a transition period within the single market, with freedom of movement, "shows the UK government has changed its position".

He said:

That is due to the growing consensus of opinion - including leading business voices - that leaving the world's biggest single market is potentially disastrous for jobs, investment and living standards."

But Mr Russell added that the PM now needs to go further and "commit to a long-term future in the single market and customs union, not just as a transition arrangement".

Davidson: PM looking for 'a bespoke Brexit deal'

Ruth Davidson
BBC

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, says the prime minister's speech included a lot "for both leavers and remainers".

Giving her reaction to Mrs May's vision for Brexit negotiations, she said: "Crucially we will be leaving the European Union, this is not an open ended transition," adding: "Also we are looking for a bespoke deal. We are not a Canada and we are not a Norway, we are looking for a British deal."

'Tariff free trade depends on reciprocity'

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CBI: Firms will welcome 'status quo' transition

Carolyn Fairbairn
Reuters

The proposed transition period post-Brexit "will protect jobs and investment on both sides of the Channel", CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn has said.

Hailing the PM's "positive tone", she said: “Firms will welcome the proposal of a ‘status quo’ transition period for business that averts a cliff-edge exit."

Millions of EU workers and their families in the UK need certainty and vice versa, she said, adding:

Negotiators must now move the talks on to trade and transition as soon as possible. More tough choices and compromises await and listening to firms will help ensure agreement on a comprehensive version of what our future economic relationship with the EU will look like."

Soubry: Speech will give business some certainty

BBC News Channel

Anna Soubry
BBC

Conservative former business minister Anna Soubry has welcomed Theresa May's speech, saying it was "absolutely the right step and the right direction".

The pro-EU MP claims the Florence address put the interests of the economy and jobs "at the heart of Brexit".

"It will give British business some sort of certainty," she tells the BBC, although "they need a bit more flesh on the bones".

Will EU negotiators cut May some slack?

BBC News Channel

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said Theresa May's speech was warm, conciliatory and spoke of an exciting future for the UK and EU.

He said EU negotiators that were listening might think they can "cut Mrs May some slack" and allow the UK to move to the second phase of Brexit negotiations.

But he warned there may not be enough yet on the rights of EU nationals to allow the talks to move ahead.

He added that Mrs May had gone out of her way to appeal to EU leaders, and if they were listening, they might "put the squeeze" on EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

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What did we learn from May's Florence speech?

Reality Check

Theresa May
PA

Prime Minister Theresa May has used a speech in Florence to set out the UK's position on how to move Brexit talks forward.

With further negotiations planned next week, what did her speech tell us about the sort of Brexit deal we might end up with?

Reality Check correspondent Chris Morris has been scanning the speech.

Read more.

Barnier: UK 'recognises it cannot keep all EU benefits'

In his statement, Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier also said the EU "shares the goal of establishing an ambitious partnership for the future".

The fact that the government of the United Kingdom recognises that leaving the European Union means that it cannot keep all the benefits of membership with fewer obligations than the other member states is welcome. In any case, the future relationship will need to be based on a balance of rights and obligations. It will need to respect the integrity of the Union's legal order and the autonomy of its decision-making."

Clarke: 'Speech should reassure British business'

BBC News Channel

Ken Clarke
BBC

Conservative former chancellor Ken Clarke, a staunch Europhile, says British business "will be considerably reassured" by Theresa May's speech in Florence.

The PM outlined how "we're going to stay in the single market and customs union for at least the next two years", he said, commenting that Mrs May had not been playing to any particular gallery in the UK.

He added: "The fact is we're going to have no new barriers... we're going to continue under our present rules."

May 'bringing no more clarity' to UK position

Manfred Weber, who chairs the centre-right European People's Party in the European Parliament, has tweeted that the Florence speech has left him "even more concerned".

View more on twitter
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'No new policy initiatives on Ireland'

Northern Ireland border
PA
The government says it does not want a "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic

Guy Lougher, partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, says the issue of the Irish border remains outstanding following the Florence speech.

"The three key issues are the rights of EU citizens in the UK post-Brexit, the size of the UK’s exit bill, and Ireland," he says.

"The speech covers two of the three key issues.... However, the prime minister’s speech does not contain any concessions on Ireland, which is the third key filter issue identified by the EU."

He argues: "It is possible that the EU maintains its view that there has not been enough ground conceded by the UK to justify moving negotiations into the second phase, because the prime minister’s speech contains no new policy initiatives in relation to the thorny question of Ireland."

Barnier: 'Ready to discuss' UK payment pledge

Europe's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says Theresa May's speech "shows a willingness to move forward" on Brexit.

But he stresses that the EU's priority is "to protect the rights" of EU citizens living in the UK in the same way as the rights of British citizens are protected in the EU.

While the UK recognises none of the remaining 27 members of the bloc will have to pay more or receive less because of Brexit, "we stand ready to discuss the concrete implications of this pledge", he said.

Mr Barnier said the UK's request to continue to benefit from the single market during the two-year transitional period "could be taken into account by the EU".

But he added:

The sooner we reach an agreement on the principles of the orderly withdrawal in the different areas – and on the conditions of a possible transition period requested by the United Kingdom – the sooner we will be ready to engage in a constructive discussion on our future relationship."

Watch: Corbyn says transition plan 'nothing new'

Italian MEP awaits 'concrete' proposals

BBC News Channel

Roberto Gualtieri
BBC

Italian MEP Roberto Gualtieri, who chairs the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, describes Theresa May's speech as "interesting".

He would like to know whether the UK PM is committing to a longer-term "financial framework" or a "yearly budget" for financial contributions to the EU during the proposed transition period.

He says he doesn't know whether Mrs May's words will be enough to move Brexit talks forward, but more "concrete" proposals from the UK might.

Tory backbencher says UK position is 'clear'

BBC News Channel

James Cleverly
BBC

The tone of the prime minister's speech was "significant", says Conservative MP James Cleverly.

He says Theresa May reminded fellow EU leaders that the UK would be "active players in the European sphere... but we are definitely leaving" the EU.

He describes a transition period after 2019 as an "implementation period".

Mr Cleverly, who backed leaving the EU, insists that Mrs May "made the position of the UK government as a whole completely clear in that speech".

Labour MP urges both sides to 'think again'

BBC News Channel

Chris Leslie
BBC

Labour's Chris Leslie, who backed the Remain campaign, described Theresa May's Florence address as "a missed opportunity" - and called for the government and the frontbench of his party to "think again" over Brexit.

"Extrication is going to be damaging," he told the BBC, and questioned the benefits of making the "this split" with the EU.

So many of those promises in the Leave campaign have been completely ripped up."

Brexit: Have your say

'We didn't vote for a transition period'

Corbyn: Post-Brexit transition 'nothing new'

Jeremy Corbyn
BBC

Theresa May's speech was more the "product of internal negotiations in the Tory party rather than negotiations with the EU", Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

He claimed the PM had used the speech to "slap down" Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis, who were both in Florence with Mrs May.

Mr Corbyn told the BBC a transitional period post-Brexit has always been on the cards.

She's had 15 months to think about that and she's gone all the way to Florence ... to tell us what we already know."

Tory MP: 'Transition delays Brexit advantages'

BBC News Channel

Owen Paterson
BBC

Conservative MP and former minister Owen Paterson, who campaigned to leave the EU, says he welcomes Theresa May's commitment to leave the single market, customs union and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

However, he tells BBC News: "As long we still have that transition period, we're still bound in by European rules and we can't get cracking and open up markets around the world."

He adds: "As long as we're in this position, we can't take on the real advantages of leaving."

May 'admitting to hefty Brexit bill'

Sir Vince Cable
PA

"Both the Conservatives and Labour have now essentially converged on the same position, which is to kick the can down the road and simply delay the economic pain caused by an extreme Brexit," says Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable.

"Voters were promised £350m a week for the NHS. Instead, Theresa May is admitting the UK will have to pay a hefty Brexit bill worth billions of pounds.

"No wonder the Brexiteers are terrified of giving the British people the final say through a referendum on the facts."

More from Johnson on May Brexit speech

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TUC: Need for long-term jobs deal post-Brexit

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has accused the PM of "not levelling with the British people" about the Brexit trade-offs that will be needed.

“Reality has begun to break through into the government’s Brexit strategy, as Theresa May finally admits that a smooth transition period is desirable and necessary.

“But the prime minister is still pretending we can have our cake and eat it for a long-term deal...

“We still need a realistic negotiating strategy for how the government will get a long-term deal that protects jobs, rights and livelihoods, and encourages businesses to invest in Britain.”

Greens: Speech 'extremely underwhelming'

Theresa May's proposed transition period post-Brexit "is welcome news" but continued membership of the single market and freedom of movement are essential, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas has said.

Describing the UK PM's speech as "extremely underwhelming", Ms Lucas - the UK's only Green MP - said: "The prime minister should have laid down a real plan for the long-term protection of the rights of EU citizens in Britain, instead of simply offering warm words."

Farage: Speech says Britain not open for business

BBC News Channel

Nigel Farage
BBC

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage says Theresa May's Brexit speech "made it pretty clear she doesn't really want to leave [the EU] at all".

He would not be surprised that if the PM is still in charge after the transitional period she would ask for even more time, he says.

Mr Farage says her plan will "upset queues of countries" outside the EU who want to do business with the UK because it suggested they would not be signing trade deals until 2022 at the earliest.

"The message from Florence today is Britain is not open for business - we will not be doing any deals with you for many years to come."

Claiming Mrs May is "wasting years and years of a golden opportunity", he added: "It's two fingers up to 17.4m people who voted for Brexit."

Farage: UK leaving the EU in name only

Sky News

Nigel Farage told Sky News a little earlier that Theresa May's speech had very little substance and it was clear the UK would leave the EU "in name only".

The UK would stay part of the current structures but ‘"rebadge the status quo", the former UKIP leader added.

Mr Farage said he wouldn’t be surprised if the two-year transition became "many, many more than that".

Watch: May wants two-year 'implementation' deal

Theresa May says an "implementation period" of two years "will create valuable certainty" for the UK and EU.

Theresa May's speech - the story in tweets

Brexit: May sets out UK offer to break deadlock

Theresa May
BBC

Theresa May has set out proposals for a two-year transition period after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

She wants existing EU market access arrangements to apply during that period and promised Britain would pay its "fair share" into the EU budget.

She said the UK will be the "strongest friend and partner" of the EU after Brexit.

The speech in Italy was aimed at breaking the deadlock in Brexit talks, due to resume on Monday.

Read more

Lammy says transitional deal needs EU rubber-stamp

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Theresa May: 'I've set out a way forward'

Tory MEP: 'It is time we got down to business'

Conservative MEP Ashley Fox has urged the EU to respond positively to Theresa May's speech, hailing it as "a blueprint for our country's future".

"Brussels has been asking for concrete proposals and here they are," the MEP for South West England and Gibraltar said.

He added: "I hope Florence proves to be the cradle of a renaissance for both Britain and the EU."

'Huge gap' between UK and EU

Brian Potter
Blake Morgan

"Theresa May set out to strike a conciliatory and calming note with today's speech in Florence," says Bruce Potter of law firm Blake Morgan, "but 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."

Mr Potter, who has written the firm's Brexit guide for businesses, adds: "The question of continued payments to the EU is a huge stumbling block which must be resolved if any useful talks are to take place on life after Brexit - the vital issue for the UK political audience.

"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."