Theresa May will attempt to calm fears over Brexit in a speech today. She will lay out “five tests” that the UK must overcome in order to successfully leave the EU – promising to negotiate a deal that will leave an “open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy”.
She will argue that “the broadest and deepest possible agreement, covering more sectors and cooperating more fully than any free trade agreement anywhere in the world today” is possible, because it is in both the UK and the EU’s interests.
She will lay out five tests that to guide the UK in its negotiations:
- That any deal must respect the referendum result
- That any deal must not break down
- That any deal must protect jobs and security
- That any deal must be “consistent with the kind of country we want to be”
- That any agreement must bring the country together
It will mark a noticeable shift in rhetoric from the early days of May’s premiership, when she spoke of a “red, white and blue Brexit” and promised to “take back control of our borders”.
Despite this softening of tone, Brussels has so far indicated that the UK will not be able to “pick and choose” which of the EU’s laws it wants to be subject to, raising questions over the possibility of the bespoke deal that May wants.
The timing of the speech is also not great for Mrs. May. It comes at the end of a week in which she’s clashed with Brussels over the Irish border issue, Jeremy Corbyn has been praised by business leaders for his pledge to remain in the Customs Union, and former Tory Prime Minister John Major launched a stinging attack on the governments Brexit strategy.
Heavy snow across the country brought in by the “Beast from the East” and Storm Emma has also forced the location of the speech to be moved from its planned spot in Newcastle to London’s Mansion House.
But after the PM’s car-crash speech at the Conservative Party Conference in October, she’s used to things not going to plan. Her key aim today will be to appease the warring Brexit factions and to unite both her party and the general public behind Brexit – something which she’s failed to do so far.
The speech is scheduled to take place at 1:30pm.