Brexit: Theresa May seeks Cabinet support over Florence speech


May has been in North America for much of the week (Source: Getty)

Theresa May will today seek the backing of her Cabinet over a major speech she will give in Florence tomorrow, which is hoped will break the impasse in Brexit negotiations. 

The Prime Minister is this morning giving ministers sight of the critical Florence speech, which will cut out the negotiating teams and aim directly at the EU27 leaders. 

It is thought she will pledge that the UK will settle a divorce bill, and although one report indicates the figure will be a minimum of €20bn, it has also been suggested no precise figure will be confirmed - rather, it will simply guarantee some payment. 

May is expected to acknowledge Britain has a “moral obligation” to ensure other EU nations are not left worse off by the UK’s exit, and civil servant Oliver Robbins is said to have contacted counterparts across the member states with reassurances on this.

The speech may also address the matter of the Irish border, something which the EU has become increasingly resolute about.

It is also thought the speech will include mention of the need for transition, something the City has been clamouring to hear for months. 

Speaking in today's City A.M., Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, said: “For our industry, this really is crunch time. We need the UK and the EU27 to agree a time-limited and legally-binding transition period that resembles the status quo as closely as possible and applies across all sectors of the economy.”

He added: “Many firms are already moving parts of their operations out of the UK and Europe. When they’ve gone, it's hard to see them coming back.”

It is essential that May is backed on her speech, after a bruising week in which foreign secretary Boris Johnson has dominated the headlines over a letter that appeared to undermine the government's approach on Brexit, fuelling rumours of a split and possible resignation on his part. 

However, Johnson is now understood to have returned to the fold and will be joining May in Florence, alongside David Davis and chancellor Philip Hammond, who has also been accused of undermining Number 10