What will Theresa May offer in her big Florence speech?


It is widely expected that that Prime Minister will make an offer on the divorce bill (Source: Getty)

All eyes are on Theresa May this week, ahead of her big speech to leaders of the EU in Florence on Friday. 

The Prime Minister, who is currently in Canada trying to secure an agreement that would allow the UK to "copy and paste" the EU-Canada trade deal that took many years to finalise, is expected to make an important intervention in the Brexit talks this week. 

On Friday, an aide was snapped holding a copy of the 5,000-word speech, with a strategically-placed notebook covering all but a few glimpses of what it contains.

It is widely hoped there is meat on the bones, and it is not just a reiteration of her Lancaster House speech some months ago, as the speech has pushed back the official talks between David Davis and his counterpart Michel Barnier by a week

Read more: Pressure piles on PM to make "deal friendly" Brexit speech to EU27

Some have suggested she could be about to make an offer on the all-important divorce bill, which Davis has forecast could force an impasse for the duration of the negotiations. Until that has been agreed, the EU is blocking all discussions around future trade and a possible transition deal. 

Senior Conservative MPs have told City A.M. that there is increased appetite among the backbenches for a financial commitment to be made, and that £40bn was a "sensible" figure to contribute, as long as a transition period of two-to-three years, and a "decent" trading deal, was granted. 

"None of my colleagues would vote against leaving the EU on the basis of that figure," one MP said.

Putting forward a concrete sum would be "broadly in the spirit of cooperation - as long as it is reciprocated" , he added. 

Another said although he would warn against putting an actual figure on the table "if the deal is sensible, £40bn sounds like a figure that could be 'sold' to the British electorate".

Last week former Brexit minister Lord Bridges told peers that the UK should commit to paying into the EU's budget until 2020 - the duration of a transition period.

However, all this is taking place against a backdrop of Storm Boris, with the foreign secretary blustering in and setting out his (rather than the party's or that of his boss) vision for life after Brexit.

Although he has been criticised widely, with home secretary Amber Rudd accusing him of "back-seat driving", numerous reports suggesting that Johnson will tell May not to pay up.

The two are due to meet after his article, which was slammed by the UK Statistics Authority for his "clear misuse of official statistics", was published without prior approval from Downing Street.